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November 15, 2011

Overview of Baltimore's 2012 hoops class

Twenty-one Baltimore-area basketball players were freshmen at Division I programs during the 2010-11 season. This fall, 20 local players from the 2011 class have joined those DI hoops ranks. Will the 2012 class come close to approaching those numbers? I'll take a closer look at the area's best seniors below this chart of Baltimore's DI freshmen.

CollegePlayerPositionHigh SchoolHometownPrep School
BrownJon Schmidt forwardFriendsBaltimore
Central Connecticut StateMalcolm McMillan guardJohn CarrollBel Air
DePaulMontray Clemons forwardPolyBaltimoreMack Academy (N.C.)
DrexelDamion Lee guardCalvert HallBaltimoreSt. Thomas More (Conn.)
Florida Gulf CoastDante Holmes guardSt. FrancesBaltimoreOldsmar Christian (Fla.)
GeorgetownGreg WhittingtonforwardOakland MillsColumbia
High PointTre Duncan guardSevernMillersvillePrinceton Day Academy
High PointDevante Wallace guardDunbarBaltimore
IPFWIsaiah McCray guardMilford MillBaltimore
LoyolaR.J. Williams guardSt. FrancesBaltimore
MarylandNick Faust guardCityBaltimore
Mississippi Valley StateBrent Arrington guardLansdowneBaltimoreSouthern Sports Academy (Miss.)
MontanaKeron DeShields guardPallottiBaltimoreVermont Academy
Morgan StateJames HamiltonguardMilford MillBaltimore
NavyWes Clark guardGovernor's Academy (Mass.)Annapolis
NavyDonya Jackson guardCalvert HallBaltimoreMercersburg Academy (Pa.)
PittsburghDurand JohnsonforwardLake CliftonBaltimoreBrewster (N.H.) Academy
PresbyterianRyan McTavishguardSouth CarrollMount Airy
RutgersGreg Lewis forwardSt. FrancesRandallstown
UtahKareem Storey guardTowson CatholicBaltimorePrinceton Day Academy

Continue reading "Overview of Baltimore's 2012 hoops class" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:13 AM | | Comments (3)
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November 10, 2011

Stanton Kidd signs with North Carolina Central

stanton-kidd-north-carolina.jpg Ever since high school, Stanton Kidd has played with a "huge chip" on his shoulder.

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward was lightly recruited out of Edmondson, overlooked in favor of some of his more highly ranked Baltimore City classmates, and largely forgotten when he left town for junior college in the summer of 2010.

“Coming from Baltimore, with all the talent we’ve got -- Josh Selby, Will Barton, Roscoe Smith, C.J. Fair -- it’s hard coming out of that world because they were the big focus,” Kidd said. “I had my fame there, too. Guys knew I could ball. But I kind of got overlooked from the spotlight.”

At JUCO powerhouse South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, Kidd got his chance to shine. While he hasn’t been the centerpiece of the Texans like he was with the Red Storm, Kidd has received ample opportunities to prove to Division I programs that he could play at that level.

On Wednesday, Kidd’s persistence with the game paid off. The former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro player signed a letter of intent to attend North Carolina Central.

“It feels good to know that you’ve got somewhere to go after junior college,” Kidd said. “I just fell in love with [North Carolina Central on] the visit. I went home, thought about it for awhile. I had a couple other schools that wanted me. But I had to go [someplace where I wouldn’t] play in nobody’s shadow. With me going to N.C. Central now, I’m going to be in the spotlight. It’s going to be a real experience for me. Now I can take the game-winning shot, get my teammates involved and make plays.”

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:57 AM | | Comments (0)
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November 9, 2011

Marcellous Bell talks Binghamton pledge

Over the past few years Crusader Nation has been one of Baltimore's top producers of Division I basketball talent. But the local summer-league program isn't limited to having players just from the Charm City area. Marcellous Bell is an example of that.

Bell, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior from DeMatha, was Crusader Nation’s primary ball-handler over the summer. Thanks to his play on the circuit, the Bowie resident received interest from Binghamton, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris and Stony Brook, before ultimately committing to the Bearcats earlier this month.

“The thing about Binghamton getting him is that they got an extremely smart guard,” said Crusader Nation coach Fred McCathorine. “Basketball-wise, school-wise, it’s the whole nine yards. Marcellous understands when to push the ball. He’s one kid on our team who I’ve said will someday down the line be a coach, because he’s just that smart about the game.”

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November 3, 2011

North County's Cliff Cornish to High Point

cliff-cornish-high-point.jpg It was difficult for Cliff Cornish to sort through all the interest he was receiving from various Division I college basketball programs.

The 6-foot-7, 240-pound forward from North County was recruited by Boston University, Central Connecticut State, Kent State, La Salle, Morgan State and Stony Brook, among others. But one program – High Point – quickly stood out from all the rest.

“They saw him … at every tournament we played in, from West Virginia to Vegas to L.A.,” said Fred McCathorine, Cornish’s coach with the Crusader Nation basketball program. “They got to see him play a lot of games – six in West Virginia, eight in Vegas and nine in L.A. They got to see a lot of Cliff Cornish play.”

Cornish couldn’t help but notice the intensity of the Panthers staff’s pursuit. After making two trips – an unofficial and an official visit – to the North Carolina school, Cornish’s mind was made up. He committed to High Point late last week.

“I’m still happy with my decision,” Cornish said. “I knew I was going there as soon as I [visited]. It just felt right as soon as I stepped on campus after talking with the coaches and players.”

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (5)
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October 26, 2011

Baltimore's Division I hoops players for 2011-12

With the first exhibition games being played this week, the 2011-12 college basketball season is officially under way.

Last season, the Baltimore area was well-represented in college hoops, with 66 players from here on Division I rosters. There will be even more to follow this year.

By my count, 71 local players -- from Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County and Howard County -- are playing for DI programs this season.

Morgan State leads the way with four local products, while DePaul and Loyola have three apiece. Bryant, Georgetown, High Point, Maryland, Memphis, Navy, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Quinnipiac and UMBC each have two Baltimore-area players.

Check out the complete list below, and leave a comment or shoot me an email if there's anyone I missed.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:21 AM | | Comments (2)
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October 23, 2011

Gaels' Phillip Lawrence talks Marist pledge

Phillip Lawrence had a clear objective heading into his official visit to Marist over the weekend.

The Mount St. Joseph senior wasn’t looking to be swayed by the Red Foxes coaching staff or wowed by the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., campus. A decision from Lawrence – who unofficially visited the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school in August – had already been made.

“Oh, I was going to commit,” Lawrence said. “I just wanted to make the commitment [on my] official and make it more meaningful. And I wanted my mother and my grandmother to see [the campus]. They saw it and loved it there. They loved everything.”

With his family’s seal of approval, Lawrence gladly accepted Marist’s scholarship on Saturday, picking the Red Foxes over offers from Jacksonville, Loyola, Radford, Rider and Siena.

phillip-lawrence-recruiting.jpg

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:31 PM | | Comments (2)
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October 19, 2011

Antoine Allen takes long road back to DI hoops

antoine-allen-south-alabama.jpg Bouncing from one friend's apartment to another and just scraping to get by was not at all what Antoine Allen envisioned for himself when he gave up a promising basketball career for a shot at hip-hop stardom.

Over a two-year span, Allen went from playing at college basketball's highest level to near-homelessness.

“I didn’t want my family to know anything,” said Allen, a 2008 Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection from Lake Clifton. “I told them one thing, but I knew what it really was. Things [were] going rough, but I didn’t want my family to worry. It was very hard. I went through so much.”

While Allen’s family – including his two-year-old son Chaise – was kept in the dark about his living situation, the former Lakers star eventually started to have second thoughts about giving up on his education. What finally brought Allen back from the brink of destitution was his self-professed first love: basketball.

“I know how much it meant to my family, just for me to continue to play basketball and even get my degree,” Allen said. “I have talent, man, and I just felt I was wasting it. I didn’t want to waste it. I was going through a lot. But you live and you learn. I’m the first guy in my family to ever go to college. I can’t let that go. That’s big on me. I just feel I have something else to accomplish for myself and my family.”

On Monday, Allen took a major step in securing a better future for his family by committing to South Alabama – a Sun Belt Conference program that last made the NCAA tournament in 2008.

“I just think it’s a great choice,” said Butch Estes, Allen’s coach at Palm Beach (Fla.) State College. “He saw there were some connections that he can make there and I think he’ll return to the music industry when he’s done [with basketball]. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made it in the hip hop scene. He’s got the possibility of really being big-time some day.”

Getting back to Division I basketball has been a long time coming for Allen. But his long-awaited return to the game shouldn’t be a surprise to those who knew him best back home.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:03 PM | | Comments (2)
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October 12, 2011

Dunbar football notes: McManus lines up visits

deontay-mcmanus-recruiting.jpg DeonTay McManus committed to West Virginia in June, but was up front in his intentions to take trips to other schools.

Now the time has come for the Dunbar senior wide receiver to start taking his five official visits.

“We’re setting them up this week,” Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said Tuesday. “He is a solid commitment to West Virginia. The coaches are fine” with McManus taking visits elsewhere.

Smith said McManus plans to make trips to Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Oregon and West Virginia.

McManus, a four-star prospect and Rivals.com's No. 165 player nationally, has helped the No. 7 Poets to a 5-1 record this season. In the classroom, Smith said McManus’ GPA is up to a 2.8, putting him in good position to meet NCAA qualifying standards.

“He’s going to be ready to go,” said Smith, who added that McManus is under consideration for the Under Armour All-America Game in January.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
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September 18, 2011

Loyola's Jordan Floyd talks UConn commitment

jordan-floyd-uconn.jpg Any questions Jordan Floyd may have had about the Connecticut football program had been answered long ago.

The Loyola safety and wide receiver saw a Huskies spring practice last April, and was comfortable with the coaching staff’s plans for him in their secondary.

But before Floyd could offer his pledge to Paul Pasqualoni’s program, he needed a little more information about what Connecticut had to offer off the field.

“My parents and I had a couple questions academically. We went up there [Friday] and talked to the academic advisers,” Floyd said. “They don’t have a criminal justice major, but you can individualize your major, which is basically … [putting] a lot of classes together and creating your own major, which is what I really want to do. … They answered all of our questions. After that, it was a done deal.”

Floyd committed to UConn before its 24-20 loss to Iowa State on Friday night. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound senior picked the Huskies over offers from Marshall, Maryland and Temple.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:48 PM | | Comments (1)
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September 11, 2011

Isaiah Miles discusses his St. Joseph's pledge

isaiah-miles-st-josephs.jpg By the end of Isaiah Miles' freshman year at Glenelg Country School, the athletically precocious 6-foot-7 forward was a well-known prospect to college basketball recruiters across the country.

Coaches from high- and mid-major programs frequented GCS open gyms to get a look at Miles. Included in that early group of interested parties was St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli, who continued to track Miles’ progress over the next two years of his high school career.

On Friday night Miles, now a senior at Milford Mill, rewarded Martelli’s persistence with a commitment.

“From the beginning, I could tell they wanted me,” Miles said. “Coach Phil Martelli showed me his interest was strong from the beginning. He kept it through all four of my years. … [So] it feels good. It’s a lot of pressure off me now. Now I can play basketball, not worry about colleges looking at me and work at getting myself better in the gym.”

Miles, who averaged 18.8 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.75 blocks and one steal for Glenelg Country as a junior, also considered Drexel, La Salle, Loyola, North Carolina State, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, South Florida, Towson and Western Kentucky.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:37 PM | | Comments (1)
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August 30, 2011

Gilman's Cyrus Jones taking his time

cyrus-jones-recruiting.jpg A list that started with more than 40 schools was eventually pared down to 10. Countless conversations with college coaches and interviews with media outlets took place during that process, and will continue to occur throughout the next several months. But for Cyrus Jones, the chaotic existence of being a highly coveted four-star recruit has never been a bother.

“It wasn’t as hectic as I thought it was going to be. I think I’ve managed it well,” said Jones, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound wide receiver and cornerback. “It’s a pretty enjoyable process. It’s stressful at times, with calls and things like that. But it’s been reassuring, just to see my hard work paying off.”

Jones has picked up right where Virginia freshman Darius Jennings – his former Gilman teammate – left off as Baltimore’s most heavily recruited senior football prospect. For proof of that, look no further than Jones’ Top 10: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Maryland, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

A high-profile recruitment is something Jones has gotten used to over time. Thanks to an All-Metro 2010 season at cornerback in which he also accumulated 1,240 all-purpose yards and scored nine touchdowns running, receiving and returning kicks, Jones earned most of his scholarship offers before winter break of his junior year.

“You pretty much know when you get offers, the schools you’re going to be strongly interested in,” Jones said. “Coming into the process, there are schools that catch your eye. ... You weed through the first ones, focus on schools you’re seriously interested in. It’s going pretty well.”

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:00 PM | | Comments (2)
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August 25, 2011

Isaiah Armwood talks George Washington pledge

isaiah-armwood-gw.jpg After transferring from Villanova last week, Isaiah Armwood didn't waste any time in finding a new school. The Baltimore native and 2009 Montrose Christian grad committed to George Washington on Wednesday night.

“[George Washington] just kept sticking in my head more than any other schools,” Armwood said Thursday. “It just came down to a decision I had to make that was best for me. GW is what was best for me. … The campus, it was not too far from home. And GW is a great school. I came from a great school in Villanova as well. That always stuck in the back of my mind.”

Armwood, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward, also visited Maryland and was interested in Iowa, Texas Tech and Virginia. But GW presented Armwood with an opportunity to be part of a new era under former Vermont coach and Maryland assistant Mike Lonergan.

“Coach Lonergan, he doesn’t want to limit his players,” Armwood said. “[His players] can just express everything they can on the court. With this year off, it’s just an opportunity to expand my game even more.”

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:47 PM | | Comments (6)
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August 23, 2011

Daquein McNeil living up to the hype

Daquein McNeil left Baltimore last summer to spend his sophomore year at Vermont Academy in sleepy Saxtons River, Vt.

When the 6-foot-3, 170-pound combo guard returned to Charm City in the spring, he did so with an improved game, an elevated profile and a notable difference in his “maturity level.” McNeil put what he learned in Vermont to practice all spring and summer long on the circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite’s 17-and-under team.

“Even though I’m like the youngest one on the team, I’m kind of like the big brother,” McNeil said Saturday after the Bmorehoops.com National All-Star Game at The Dome. “[I try to] keep everyone in sync so everything’s going good.”

Coming off a sophomore season in which he was ranked the No. 5 player in New England for his class and the No. 1 player in Vermont, McNeil picked up where he left off with Nike Baltimore Elite. Despite his youth, he emerged as a go-to scorer for the team and a legitimate high-major recruit.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:25 AM | | Comments (1)
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August 22, 2011

Gaels' Phillip Lawrence has Division I options

A summer spent in Pennsylvania was just what Phillip Lawrence needed to raise his profile.

Lawrence, a 6-foot-7, 180-pound forward from Mount St. Joseph, lived with his father in Philadelphia and spent the spring and summer on the circuit with Philly’s Finest.

“It went great,” Lawrence said Saturday after the Bmorehoops.com American All-Star Game at The Dome. “I had a great summer, I got a lot more looks, a couple offers. And the team was good overall. I played with Amile Jefferson.”

phillip-lawrence-recruiting.jpg

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 3:42 PM | | Comments (4)
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August 18, 2011

Armwood talks transfer, potential destinations

isaiah-armwood-transfer.jpg A European vacation turned out to be Isaiah Armwood's farewell tour with Villanova.

Armwood, a 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward from Baltimore, decided shortly after the Wildcats returned from their foreign tour this week that he would be transferring from the Big East school.

“Me and Coach [Jay] Wright sat down, I’d say three or four days ago. We made the decision -- the best decision for me -- to transfer and leave Villanova,” Armwood told Recruiting Report today. “It was very hard. I didn’t want to leave because I’ve been there for so long. I’m so adapted to the people there.”

Armwood, a Montrose Christian grad, played sparingly as an underclassman. He averaged 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17 minutes per game as a sophomore for the Wildcats. But heading into his junior season, Armwood was named a team captain and started every game for Villanova overseas this month. The Wildcats played five games in France and the Netherlands from Aug. 9-14.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:43 PM | | Comments (6)
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August 12, 2011

Southern's Joyce, Harris to team up again

Southern forward Cody Joyce received an eye-opening introduction to college basketball this summer when he accepted a scholarship from Marist only to be told two days later that the offer had been rescinded.

“I give him a lot of credit,” said Will Maynard, a longtime Southern assistant who took over as head coach this month. “He was upset for a couple days, which is to be expected. But he took the mentality that if one school offered me a Division I scholarship, you know what? I can get another one.”

Joyce took the next step toward a potential DI future this week by signing on to do a post-grad year at Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va. Joyce will play for a former teammate of Maynard’s at Shepherd University in Chad Meyers.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 6:39 PM | | Comments (0)
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August 9, 2011

Sam Cassell Jr. emerges as 'a high-major talent'

sam-cassell-jr-2012.jpg Every so often during his junior year at St. Frances, Sam Cassell Jr. showed flashes of high-major potential.

After leaving the Panthers to spend his senior year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., moments where Cassell looked like a future big-time college player became increasingly regular. A standout summer on the circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite subsequently vaulted the 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard to a different level of attention from colleges.

“Right now I’m getting interest from [schools in] the Big East, ACC and SEC,” Cassell said Monday. “I always dreamed about it and it’s coming true.”

Cassell, who will return to Notre Dame Prep this fall for a postgrad year, said he grew “an inch-and-a-half” and added “probably 15, 20 pounds” of muscle over the past year. He said he averaged “around 14 or 15 points and … six assists” for the Crusaders, demonstrating an assertiveness his game may have lacked earlier in his high school career.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:09 PM | | Comments (2)
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August 6, 2011

St. Frances grad Dante Holmes makes his pick

dante-holmes-fgcu.jpg Dante Holmes' college career will unfold more than 1,000 miles away from his home, but there will be no shortage of Baltimore influences on the former St. Frances star at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Holmes, a two-time Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection who signed with the Eagles on Friday, will play for a head coach who is Johns Hopkins' all-time leading scorer and an assistant who is considered one of Charm City's most accomplished point guards.

Andy Enfield, who landed the FGCU job after five seasons as an assistant at Florida State, scored 2,025 career points for the Blue Jays and finished his Hopkins career by setting an NCAA career record for best free-throw percentage (92.5 percent). Kevin Norris, who will serve as Enfield's top assistant after one year at UNC-Wilmington, was a standout point guard at Lake Clifton before starring for four seasons at Miami.

Both coaches were instrumental in Holmes' decision to sign with Florida Gulf Coast, a Division I program in Fort Myers, Fla., that competes in the Atlantic Sun conference.

"The first thing that came to mind was loyalty," Holmes said Saturday. "The first day [Enfield] got the job, I got the first scholarship, the first offer."

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:12 PM | | Comments (5)
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August 5, 2011

Boys' Latin tackle Pyke commits to Georgia

Recruiting-greg-pyke.jpg


Greg Pyke was on his way to make a visit to Virginia Tech Thursday, when the Boys' Latin senior offensive tackle and his parents heard a report on the radio about a man carrying a gun at the Blacksburg campus.

With the school on lockdown, and the memory of the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech on his mind, Pyke never made it to Blacksburg.

Instead, he and his parents continued down to the University of Georgia, where the coveted recruit gave his commitment Friday.

"[Thursday] we were on the way down, and we heard on the radio that there was a guy with a gun," Pyke said. "We called the [Virginia Tech] coaches, and they told us that the school was on lockdown. Obviously they take that very seriously because of what happened four years ago. So we told them it was probably best if we just rescheduled, and we just kept on going down to Georgia."

There, Pyke felt at home, and he made his commitment.

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Posted by David Selig at 7:02 PM | | Comments (3)
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Gilman LB Devon Porchia commits to Pitt

Recruiting-devon-porchia.jpg

Devon Porchia has the speed and strength to create trouble as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.

But one of the main reasons the Gilman senior was so heavily recruited -- and committed to Pittsburgh on Friday -- is his ability to also drop back in coverage.

"I definitely feel like it is [important] to be able to drop back in coverage, because most of the soft spots [in a defense] are there," said Porchia, who also had offers from Wake Forest, Cincinnati and Buffalo. "[Coaches] definitely brought that up a lot in talking to me."

The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Porchia has started for Gilman since his sophomore year. He acknowledges being undersized for a college linebacker at this point, but he anticipates redshirting a year to get bigger and also adapt to the Panthers' defensive scheme.

He said he was recruited to play a similar role to the one he now fills for the Greyhounds.

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Posted by David Selig at 4:12 PM | | Comments (0)
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August 4, 2011

St. Frances' Josh Forney talks Loyola pledge

josh-forney-loyola.jpg Josh Forney couldn't help but notice a trend developing in the Loyola men's basketball program over the past year.

It started with former Cardinal Gibbons combo guard Dylon Cormier having a standout freshman year for the Greyhounds last season. It continued last December when point guard R.J. Williams – Forney’s teammate at St. Frances – committed to Loyola. Then came a pledge from Milford Mill small forward Tevin Hanner in March, followed by a transfer to Loyola from Xavier by former City standout Jordan Latham in May.

Earlier this week, Forney joined the Baltimore-to-Loyola movement by committing to the Greyhounds.

“It was just something I wanted to get off my chest,” Forney said Thursday. “They were very excited about the commitment. … It’s a real comfortable atmosphere.”

Forney has experience playing with all four of those aforementioned future teammates. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound center teamed with Williams to help St. Frances to the 2010 MIAA A Conference championship. Forney played with Latham during the beginning of his high school career at City. And he suited up with Cormier and Hanner years ago with the Crusader Nation AAU program.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:46 PM | | Comments (2)
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July 29, 2011

Charles Tapper discusses his Oklahoma pledge

charles-tapper-oklahoma.jpg Oklahoma was the first college football program to take a chance and offer Charles Tapper a scholarship.

Last weekend, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end rewarded the Sooners’ faith in him by offering his commitment.

“I just thought it was the best choice,” said Tapper, a four-star prospect and 24-7 Sports’ No. 112 player in the 2012 class. “I think they want me at weakside D-end. They said they liked my quickness off the ball, that I’m strong and that I’m a raw talent.”

A well-known basketball standout for City and Nike Baltimore Elite, Tapper was a newcomer last fall to the gridiron. He suited up for the Knights for the first time, and quickly emerged as one of the city’s top talents. His national reputation grew thanks in part to his participation in Next Level Nation’s 7-on-7 program.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:32 AM | | Comments (1)
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July 28, 2011

Calvert Hall WR Williams commits to West Virginia

Recruiting-Trevor-Williams.jpg Ask Calvert Hall football coach Donald Davis about wide receiver Trevor Williams' merits, and Davis pauses for a breath before beginning his answer.

The laundry list Davis rattles off is a big reason Williams committed to West Virginia on Thursday.

"As a receiver, he's got all the components," Davis ultimately concluded. "He fits all the criteria [coaches] are looking for. He can play in any offense."

Those components include speed, intelligence, deft route running, reliable hands, strong blocking and the ability to contribute in the return game.

"Overall, he's one of the best prospects I've ever had," Davis said of the 6-foot-2, 190-pound rising senior after confirming his commitment. "He's certainly the best wide receiver prospect I've ever had."

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Posted by David Selig at 5:25 PM | | Comments (0)
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July 27, 2011

Aberdeen grad Devon Branch a JUCO standout

devon-branch-cloud-county.jpg The Holiday Inn in Aberdeen wasn't exactly where Devon Branch hoped to be after graduating high school in 2008.

Branch, a first-team All-Harford County selection for the Eagles as a senior, had received interest from George Mason, Tennessee and Virginia Tech for his basketball talents. But when his SAT score came up short of NCAA qualifying standards, Branch decided to take “a year off to mature myself and get ready” for college.

“It was good,” Branch said of his time at the Holiday Inn. “Some days I worked in the kitchen as a dishwasher. Some days I helped the maids make the beds.”

Branch, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard, never stopped working on his game during his year away from school. That work ethic served him well during the 2010-11 season, when he starred as a freshman for the Cloud County Community College team in Concordia, Kan.

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Posted by Matt Bracken at 1:39 PM | | Comments (0)
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July 26, 2011

Former Forest Park RB Makell commits to Temple

xavier-makell-forestpark.jpg

The way he looked at it, Xavier Makell's senior season was going to punch his ticket to a Division I football scholarship.

Through four games in the fall of 2008, the Forest Park running back had rushed for more than 750 yards and 13 touchdowns, and in the first half of the fifth game, against Poly, he had 90 yards and another score.

Then came the second half kickoff.

Returning the kick, Makell was stepping out of bounds when he noticed the man holding the down marker in his path. Makell tried to leap over the stick, but in doing so, he tweaked his right knee.

He stayed in the game but shortly thereafter "felt a pop." With an torn anterior cruciate ligament, Makell's season was over, and his path to that D-I scholarship was about to get tougher.

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Posted by David Selig at 2:31 PM | | Comments (0)
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Gaels' Lavon Long powers Maryland 3D 16s to title

Less than three weeks after leading Maryland 3D's 17-and-under team to the Big Shots Myrtle Beach tournament championship, Lavon Long had an encore performance on the circuit.

This time the rising junior from Mount St. Joseph rejoined 3D’s 16-and-under squad for a Big Shots tournament on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth last weekend. And once again, Long’s team was victorious.

“Lavon Long was the MVP,” said Geoff Reed, coach of the Maryland 3D 16s. “It’s kind of interesting because his role with the 17s is a little bit different. He’s a little bit of a role player for them. They have some guards who can really play. My guards are good, too, but their guards are a little bit older. Basically, he’s the unquestioned leader for us. He does a little bit of everything for us. He handles the ball, rebounds, blocks shots, can shoot the 3 [and] gets to the rim when he wants. I think he’s a kid that’s just kind of figuring out how good he can really be. He’s got kind of a laid-back personality. I think mentally, he’s starting to realize that he can really dominate games on both ends of the floor.”

big-shots-richmond-3d.jpg

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July 22, 2011

Former Arundel football player Paschal to Kentucky

Travaughn Paschal's path to a Division I scholarship was far more circuitous than the former Arundel football player would have liked.

But after committing to Kentucky last month and preparing to enroll for this fall semester, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end/linebacker is surely not going to take his opportunity for granted.

Paschal played sparingly his junior year at Arundel, and he only made it through two games his senior season (2008) before breaking his arm at a team dinner.

The players were hanging out in a backyard the day before the third game of the season when one teammate threw a pass into the air. Paschal went up to grab it, not seeing another intended target sprinting in his direction. The other player unintentionally clipped Paschal's legs out from under him, and Paschal landed awkwardly on his arm, ending his season.

"At the time I didn't even want to talk about it," Paschal said. "I hated every time I had to walk past everybody [on the team] with their jerseys on. It was just real frustrating to me."

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July 21, 2011

Mount St. Joe WR Benjamin commits to Temple

samuel-benjamin-temple.jpg
With experience at wide receiver, quarterback and running back, it can be somewhat tough to iron down Samuel Benjamin's role in Mount St. Joseph's offense.

But the coaches at Temple University found a description the Gaels’ rising senior likes quite a bit.

First-year Owls coach Steve Addazio and much of his staff came from the University of Florida. And likening Benjamin's future role on their team to that of former Gators star receiver Percy Harvin was one factor in Benjamin committing to Temple on Monday.

"That was kind of surprising to me," Benjamin said of the comparison to Harvin, one of his favorite NFL players. "I wasn't expecting it. It's a good honor to be compared to a player like Percy Harvin."

Benjamin gave his commitment while on an unofficial visit Monday. He also had verbal offers from Ohio and Marshall and received strong interest from Virginia, Mount St. Joseph coach Blake Henry said.

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St. Frances' Daquan Cook commits to UNLV

daquan-cook-unlv.jpg Daquan Cook has never set foot on UNLV's campus, but that will change soon enough.

Cook, a rising senior from St. Frances, committed to the Runnin' Rebels on Thursday afternoon. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound combo guard was also recruited by La Salle, Seton Hall, South Florida, Temple and Washington.

"I’ve been thinking [about committing] for a long time now," Cook said. "I’m just glad to get it over with now. It feels good."

Despite never taking a visit to UNLV, Cook said he "didn't feel any pressure" about making his choice. Dwayne Wise, director of the Under Armour-sponsored B'more Finest AAU program, said Cook was sold on first-year Rebels coach Dave Rice.

“Coach Rice, we researched him, and he did really well with Jimmer Fredette … [as the associate head coach] at BYU,” said Wise, whose cousin is Cook’s mother. “We researched the system, researched the school, and that’s the kind of system Daquan would flourish in as a college player. Coach Rice was really influential with that system before taking the UNLV job. As we researched Coach Rice, being that he’s a former player at UNLV, we think he wants to bring that kind of style back to the new UNLV. We felt as though it was the perfect system for Daquan as a point guard to develop.”

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July 20, 2011

McDonogh's Kayel Locke starring on AAU circuit

kayel-locke-mcdonogh.jpg For McDonogh's Kayel Locke, this summer has been business as usual on the court.

A 6-foot-5, 255-pound power forward, Locke has followed up a standout junior season with a starring role for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit. The Eagles star had a breakout performance last week at the Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C.

“It was pretty good, getting an opportunity to play in front of a lot of college coaches,” Locke said. “My role is just to pretty much be a leader on the court. … I get out there and rebound, score in the post, score outside the post. I just go out and play hard, do all the dirty work.”

Locke’s shining moment came during NBE’s 78-71 win over Virginia-based Boo Williams on the first night of pool play at the Peach Jam. Locke paced his squad with 23 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes. For the tournament, Locke averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. He shot nearly 48 percent from the field in leading NBE to a 3-2 record.

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July 16, 2011

Former Milford Mill guard to play for BCCC

xavier-drake-bccc.jpg Xavier Drake, a 2009 Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, will play for Baltimore City Community College, Panthers coach Terry Maczko announced this week.

“Xavier was referred to me by Eric Barksdale (Dunbar) who just finished his sophomore season with us,” Maczko said in a news release. “Eric had a really good experience at BCCC and got Xavier interested in the program. He just started playing in a couple of summer leagues with our guys and I think he realizes that we have a chance to have a great season. He’s really looking forward to it.” 

Drake, a 6-foot, 185-pound point guard, was a three-year starter for the Millers. He averaged 15 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Baltimore County champions as a senior.

As a freshman at Hagerstown Community College, Drake averaged 5.7 points and 1.5 assists. He redshirted last year at Grays Harbor Junior College in Aberdeen, Wash. At BCCC, Drake joins former Baltimore high school standouts Sean Farr (Dunbar) and Donte Stuckey (Walbrook).

“What I love about Xavier is he fears no one and wants the ball in his hands in crunch time," Maczko said. "He’s a winner, has a true passion for the game and is super competitive."

2009 Baltimore Sun photo of Xavier Drake

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July 12, 2011

Maryland 3D wins Big Shots tourney in S.C.

Marty Lipinski's Maryland 3D 17-and-under basketball team was down a few players heading into last week's Big Shots AAU tournament in Myrtle Beach, but you'd never know it based on the results.

With three class of 2013 players called up for the South Carolina trip, Maryland 3D cruised to the tournament championship game, topping the Texas Cagers in double overtime for the title.

“We never had any practices,” said Lipinski, whose team won six games in three days, culminating with Friday night’s championship. “The organization is pretty much the same thing throughout the age groups. We do that so kids can move between groups and not miss a beat. We were strong right from the very beginning.”

3d-big-shots-myrtle-beach.jpg

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July 1, 2011

Marist rescinds scholarship offer to Cody Joyce

On Tuesday, Cody Joyce accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Marist. Two days later, the Southern graduate was informed that the Red Foxes were withdrawing the offer.

“They offered him a scholarship and he accepted,” said Pete Medhurst, Joyce’s father. “They called us, welcomed us to the family, [said] ‘Here’s when school starts, when he’ll move in.’ And [Marist coach] Chuck Martin called us [Thursday] afternoon and basically said the athletic director is not letting [them] take Cody.”

Medhurst said Marist athletic director Tim Murray told his wife on the phone that the school couldn’t accept Joyce because they were “over-enrolled.” Efforts to reach Murray through email Friday night were not immediately successful. Coaches are forbidden by NCAA rules from commenting on unsigned prospects.

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June 30, 2011

Southern forward Cody Joyce headed to Marist

When Cody Joyce sat down for a post-visit meeting in Marist coach Chuck Martin's office, the Southern High grad couldn't help but brace himself for bad news.

Joyce, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound power forward, was no stranger to disappointment when it came to recruiting. Despite a standout senior season with the Bulldogs, Joyce finished high school with just a smattering of DI interest.

Joyce hoped things would be different with Marist, which hosted him on an official visit earlier this week. But there were no guarantees when the All-Anne Arundel County player chatted with the Red Foxes coach.

“[Martin] said I was going to be successful, I have tremendous upside … and he said that I’m the type of kid that everybody loves to be around. Twenty years from now, he can see me being a very successful person,” Joyce recalled. “[Then] I thought he was going to say, ‘But unfortunately, we’re going to go in a different direction.’ But he said, ‘We’re going to offer you.’ I ended up committing right on the spot.”

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June 27, 2011

Dunbar's Devante Wallace commits to High Point

devante-wallace-high-point.jpg For two-and-a-half weeks, Devante Wallace waited patiently for a phone call that would determine his college future.

The recent Dunbar graduate made an official visit to High Point earlier this month, but the Panthers were considering him and another player with just one scholarship to give. If the High Point offer came through, Wallace planned to commit on the spot. If the High Point coaches decided to offer the other player, Wallace was ticketed for prep school.

On Monday morning, Wallace got the call – and the good news – he had been waiting for.

“They called my father. I was asleep at the time. I just woke up and my father was talking to the coach. I asked him if they offered me and he said yes. Then Coach talked to me and said they were offering me. I was just happy because that was one of the main schools,” said Wallace, who also had interest from Eastern Michigan, Loyola, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac and UMBC. “It was just exciting that [High Point offered and I committed]. It’s a good feeling.”

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June 22, 2011

Forest Park's Sharod Hartgrove under the radar

After three years of high school basketball, Sharod Hartgrove has definitely paid his dues.

As a freshman at Walbrook, Hartgrove was the leading scorer on the Warriors’ 2008-09 JV championship team and moved up to the varsity late in the season.

“He didn’t play much,” said former Walbrook coach Greate White, now Forest Park’s head coach. “[But he] came back the following year and started.”

Hartgrove followed White to Forest Park for his junior season, and was the Foresters’ second-leading scorer at 17.5 points per game. Now White hopes that the 6-foot-3, 175-pound combo guard is primed for an even bigger season next winter.

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June 15, 2011

Charles Tapper adapts to new recruiting status

charles-tapper.jpg Charles Tapper has spent the early part of this summer much like every other summer he can remember: playing basketball.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound forward has assumed his regular role as Nike Baltimore Elite’s resident rebounder / enforcer / garbage man. But this run on the circuit for the former City standout is a bit different than in years past. For Tapper, there are no hopes of landing a Division I basketball offer based on his AAU play. He already has plenty of college scholarships on the table thanks to football.

“I love the game of basketball,” Tapper said. “I know this is probably my last year of playing. But it’s fun being back.”

This last hurrah with basketball comes months after his first season of organized football. Tapper joined George Petrides’ Knights and quickly emerged as a physical, athletic presence on the defensive line, and a dynamic pass-catching threat at tight end and wide receiver.

“It wasn’t very easy, but I didn’t think I was going to adapt like I would,” he said.

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June 9, 2011

Milford Mill's Tevin Hanner headed to prep school

tevin-hanner-phelps.jpg Before Tevin Hanner embarks on a college career at Loyola, the 6-foot-5 wing from Milford Mill will take a one-year detour to prep school.

Hanner, a Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection, decided last month to spend a fifth year at The Phelps School in Malvern, Pa.

“I was OK with it,” said Hanner, who committed to the Greyhounds in March. “Of course, coming straight out of high school, you want to go right to college. But I feel like I was OK with it because there are some things I need to work out – academic-wise, athletic-wise. Another year getting better on both those parts was cool with me.”

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June 8, 2011

Milford Mill's Isaiah McCray makes a change

isaiah-mccray-ipfw.jpg Isaiah McCray had his heart set on Colgate for months, but a late coaching change at the Patriot League school forced the Milford Mill combo guard to alter his college plans.

McCray, a 6-foot-1 senior, felt “hurt” when Raiders coach Emmett Davis was fired in March. The Millers captain and three-year starter gave Davis’ successor a chance, but by then his feelings had changed.

“I didn’t feel a sense of home like I had felt with Coach Davis,” said McCray, who signed with Colgate in November. “I told my parents and … they felt pretty much the same thing. … I just felt like it was time to back out, make better choices, make better moves. It was just time to make changes.”

Fortunately for McCray, several other opportunities arose after he was released from his letter of intent – including one with a Colgate connection. Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne – better known as IPFW – added former Raiders assistant Jon Coffman to its staff.

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June 2, 2011

Former Lansdowne star Brent Arrington goes DI

brent-arrington.jpg With just a handful of Division II and III offers coming out of high school, Lansdowne's Brent Arrington knew he would need a year of prep school to make it to the top level of college basketball.

Thanks to a connection through Cecil Kirk coach Anthony Lewis, Arrington ended up at Southern Sports Academy in Jackson, Miss., more than 1,000 miles away from home.

“At first I was like, ‘Dang, [we] can’t find a school close to home at all?’” Arrington recalled.

Arrington, a 6-foot-3, 176-pound combo guard, eventually got used to the more relaxed pace in the Magnolia State -- so much so that he decided to spend another four years there. Late last month, Arrington signed a letter of intent to play for Mississippi Valley State – a Division I school that plays in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

“I’m just real excited,” Arrington said Thursday. “I’m just ready to go down there and do what I’ve got to do. … Mississippi is far away – a whole different world to me down there. But I got there and it’s cool. It’s very slow, different from Baltimore. It’s just a different experience. There’s not a lot going on down there, [so] it’s easy to focus on basketball and school and everything.”

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June 1, 2011

Jamel Artis stepping up his game

Jamel Artis isn't afraid to admit that his junior season at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, N.J., fell short of expectations.

The Baltimore native and former Dunbar player had a decent amount of individual success, scoring “about 12 points a game.” He also improved his academic standing. But the Gray Bees, a perennial national power, labored through a 13-12 season.

“We lost a lot of games,” said Artis, who hasn’t decided where he will attend school this fall. “It wasn’t a good fit for me. … But I was one of the major players on the team.”

This spring, Artis is back to his winning ways with some familiar faces by his side in his Nike Baltimore Elite 17-and-under teammates. Artis, a 6-foot-5 ½, 190-pound point guard, guided NBE last weekend to a 5-0 record during the third session of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in Torrance, Calif.

“I think everything went pretty good, [and we] just came out strong,” Artis said. “I knew we were going to get the five wins, so we just came out and played aggressive. Everything came our way. I think everything went well. … The chemistry is very good. Everybody knows their role on the team. Nobody goes off on their own and [everybody] is good to do what they do. That helps, for real.”

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May 26, 2011

Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore makes his choice

isaiah-philmore-xavier.jpg In two years with the Towson men's basketball team, Isaiah Philmore lived through 47 losses and just 14 wins. So when the John Carroll graduate decided to transfer after his sophomore season, playing for a winner was priority No. 1 for him in selecting a new program.

“He’s won everywhere he’s been. He won in high school, he won at the AAU level, he won at camps,” said Delaware Team Takeover president Duane Coverdale, Philmore’s AAU coach. “That’s not taking anything away from Towson. He had a lot of individual success at Towson. Towson made a strong commitment to him, but at the end of the day, that was his first taste of losing.”

Philmore earlier this month narrowed his list of schools to Dayton, Delaware State and Xavier. On Wednesday night, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward committed to the Musketeers – participants in nine of the past 10 NCAA tournaments.

“It’s the most successful of the three [programs], playing high-major basketball in a mid-major conference,” Coverdale said. “They’ve been in the Top 25, Top 15 in the country before. They get to the NCAA tournament on a regular basis, and they not only get there, but they go pretty deep. It’s the kind of winning tradition he wants to be around."

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May 25, 2011

Ex-Randallstown star Alex Jackson makes his pick

Time spent at two high schools, prep school and a junior college seemed at times like "a long road" for Alex Jackson to travel to get to a Division I program, but the 6-foot-5, 215-pound forward wouldn't have had it any other way.

On Monday, Jackson – a Frederick Community College standout – committed to Quinnipiac. The former Randallstown star was also recruited by Albany, Hartford, Morehead State, St. Peter's and Sam Houston State.

“It feels good,” Jackson said Tuesday. “I’m glad that I found a place to go that needs me and wants me, and the place to me, really, was perfect. Nice coaches, great atmosphere, great facilities, and most of all, it is a winning program. I’m just so excited right now. I really can’t wait. I wish I could leave today to go to school and get started.”

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May 24, 2011

Dunbar grad Sean Farr makes a change

sean-farr-bccc.jpg Sean Farr's decision-making process two years ago was relatively straightforward.

Farr, a 2009 Dunbar graduate, was a two-sport star for the Poets -- a standout wide receiver for the football team, and an athletic wing on the basketball team. While basketball was Farr’s first love, it was clear that his athletic future was on the gridiron.

“I was so highly recruited for football that I wasn’t planning on playing basketball” in college, Farr said.

Much has changed for Farr since then – including his primary sport. After a year of prep school and time spent with two college football teams, Farr has retired his pads and focused his efforts on playing college basketball. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard signed a letter of intent this week to play for Baltimore City Community College.

“I fit right in with the team,” Farr said. “It’s mostly players from Baltimore. The team is gritty. Everybody gets along and everyone knows where everyone plays because we played together all the time” growing up.

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May 19, 2011

Jordan Latham talks Loyola commitment

jordan-latham-loyola.jpg When Jordan Latham decided to leave Xavier after his freshman season, the former City power forward quickly zeroed in on several East Coast programs as potential transfer destinations.

“I visited all the local schools, including Delaware, Towson, Loyola, and I also visited Morgan State University,” said Latham, who appeared in 16 games for the Musketeers this season. “What I did was weigh the pros and cons against each other. Loyola was the best for me.”

Latham, who committed to the Greyhounds on Monday night, averaged just 4.8 minutes and scored eight points in his lone season in Cincinnati. But the former Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection showed enough promise coming out of high school to earn a four-star ranking from Scout.com and designation as the country’s 20th-best power forward in the 2010 class.

Loyola didn’t seriously recruit Latham – a consensus high-major prospect – the first time around. But Greyhounds coach Jimmy Patsos and assistant coach Luke D’Alessio made him a top priority as soon as he was granted his release from Xavier.

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May 18, 2011

Former Owls guard Keron DeShields going west

keron-deshields.jpg Eighteen years in West Baltimore was more than enough for Keron DeShields.

In that time, the former Towson Catholic player saw his father sent to prison for his role in a narcotics operation, dealt with the murder of a former teammate and good friend, and witnessed countless other typical Baltimore tragedies.

So when DeShields, now a 6-foot-2, 177-pound combo guard, developed into a Division I-caliber basketball player, his goal in finding a place to spend the next four years of his life was clear.

“I did not want to be where I could drive home,” DeShields said. “I know my mother would like that, but it’s not for me. I know what I need – [to be] as far away from Baltimore as I can possibly be.”

Last week DeShields – who’s finishing up a post-grad year at Vermont Academy – finally realized that dream by committing to Montana.

“Man, it feels good,” said DeShields, who also considered Longwood. “It’s been a long journey, for real. It was a long journey, but it feels really good. I feel proud to be a part of Grizzly Nation.”

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May 14, 2011

Digital Harbor's Kevin Smith to stay local

kevin-smith-frederick.jpg The first half of Kevin Smith's college career will unfold roughly an hour away from his Baltimore home.

Smith, who led Digital Harbor to the Class 2A state championship last month, signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Frederick Community College on Wednesday.

“Everything was real cool,” Smith said. “[I got] a real clean, cool vibe from them. … [The] people sealed the deal pretty much.”

Smith started his high school career with two prolific seasons at Baltimore Freedom Academy. For his junior year, the 6-foot-1, 196-pound point guard played for Huntington (W.Va.) Prep. In his return to Baltimore last fall, Smith formed a dynamic backcourt duo with junior Daquan Cook, averaging nearly 17 points and eight assists for the Rams.

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May 12, 2011

Change of plans for City's Mike Cheatham

mike-cheatham-juco.jpg City guard Mike Cheatham originally planned to spend the next four years playing for the Marshall men's basketball team.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior still could end up with the Thundering Herd, but it would have to be two years from now instead of this fall. According to City assistant Tony Biggers, Cheatham is headed to Palm Beach (Fla.) State College.

Biggers said Cheatham still likes Marshall and would like to honor his commitment, but a lot could happen during his next two years at junior college.

Cheatham isn't the only City senior set to play college basketball. Rashaun Rasheed, a 6-5 wing, will play for Division II Wilmington (Del.) University. Edwin Amos, a 6-1 guard, is set for Barry University, a DII school in Miami.

Eric Greer, a 6-5 wing, and Willis Turnipseed, a 6-8 forward, will team up at Division III powerhouse St. Mary's.

City shooting guard Nick Faust signed with Maryland last fall.

Photo of Mike Cheatham by Colby Ware / Special to The Baltimore Sun / Dec. 18, 2010

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May 9, 2011

Gilman's Brian Gaia talks Penn State commitment

brian-gaia-penn-state.jpg Brian Gaia prides himself on being a "blue collar" football player, happily going about his business on Gilman's offensive and defensive lines while letting his more high-profile teammates grab all the headlines.

When it came to recruiting, the Greyhounds junior stuck to that approach, taking a few visits with the hope of reaching a decision on his college future before his senior year began.

Last weekend, Gaia accomplished that goal, committing to Penn State over offers from Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Rutgers, Tennessee, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

“It feels good,” Gaia said Monday. “A lot of pressure off me right now.”

Gaia, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound defensive tackle and offensive tackle, was a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection for his play on the Greyhounds’ offensive line last fall. In State College, Gaia – who recorded 13 tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble – is pegged for the defensive line.

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May 4, 2011

Dunbar grad Corey Spence makes his decision

corey-spence-dunbar.jpg The last time Corey Spence and Derrell Edwards teamed up on the basketball court, Dunbar celebrated the 2010 Class 1A state championship at Comcast Center.

After graduation last spring, the Poets’ star guards went their separate ways, with Spence heading to Maine for a post-grad year at Bridgton Academy, and Edwards going to Levelland, Texas to play for South Plains College.

When Spence fell “a couple points short” on the SAT and missed NCAA qualifying standards, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound point guard decided to reunite with Edwards at junior college. Spence committed to the Texans last week.

“Me and Derrell, we can get back together, playing on the same team again,” Spence said. “I think it’s going to be real fun. It’s an experience I never really [considered], playing college in the same town as him. I really think that’s going to be really exciting.”

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May 3, 2011

Poly's Donovan Riley commits to Virginia Tech

donovan-riley-poly-2010.jpg Having a lack of college options was never going to be a problem for Donovan Riley.

The Poly defensive back spent the past several months earning scholarship offers from Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech, with many more potentially on the way.

But for Riley, no current – or future – offers would be able to top scholarship No. 1, which came from the Hokies in late February.

“They were the first school to offer me,” Riley said. “That played a big role in my decision because there were other schools that have shown a lot of interest in me. But Virginia Tech has reached out a little more than the others, and I felt more comfortable with Virginia Tech.”

Riley, a 6-foot, 194-pound junior, committed to Virginia Tech this week. Riley said his family and friends are “very excited. There has been a lot of support that has been extended to me in achieving my athletic as well as academic success.”

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April 30, 2011

Derrious Gilmore signs with Wyoming

derrious-gilmore-jcc.jpg For the past three years, Derrious Gilmore has lived a nomadic basketball existence, bouncing from prep school to one junior college and then another.

The former Lake Clifton standout’s goal through it all was a Division I scholarship – and some much-needed stability.

“It was discouraging. It was hard. It was a rough transition for any young man to go through so many things, with three schools in three years,” said Gilmore, who played at Princeton Day Academy, Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College and Jones County (Miss.) Junior College. “That’s tough to do. But I put all my faith in the Lord. That just keeps my faith. The Lord would see it through. I kept putting my faith in him. It just helped me through the whole situation. It was very discouraging, but I worked hard for it. I felt that I could make it by sticking with it."

Earlier this week, Gilmore’s perseverance finally paid off. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound guard signed a letter of intent to Wyoming, picking the Cowboys over Morgan State and Towson, among others.

“I’ll be part of their family and come in right away and make an impact right away and help turn that program right around,” Gilmore said Friday. “I really just love the coaching staff. They stood out to me and it was [about] trying something new, experience a part of the country that a lot of people from Baltimore never get a chance to see.”

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April 27, 2011

Daquan Cook, Aquille Carr bring home gold

carr-cook-1.jpg Daquan Cook, Aquille Carr and the rest of U.S. Elite Select Basketball's under-19 team returned home from Italy on Tuesday as champions.

The U.S. team rolled to five wins in three days at the Junior International Tournament in Milan, culminating with an 86-66 victory over Italy’s Basket Rimini Crabs in the championship game Monday.

“We brought the gold home,” said Cook, a 6-foot-1 combo guard from Digital Harbor. “Competition was great. Everybody was strong, big, tall, athletic and fast. Every game was tough. We had to work hard every game.”

Cook saved his best performance for last, scoring a game-high 31 points in the title game. The Rams junior averaged 21 points for the tournament, earning MVP honors for his efforts.

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April 21, 2011

Isaiah Philmore focused on five schools

isaiah-philmore-transfer.jpg After a sophomore season filled with individual accomplishment but devoid of team success, Isaiah Philmore decided last week to transfer away from Towson.

Philmore, a Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection at John Carroll in 2009, averaged a team-best 15.3 points to go along with seven rebounds per game for the Tigers (4-26) this season. The centerpiece of Pat Kennedy’s 2009 recruiting class was living up to his pre-college hype, but ultimately decided against staying on for the beginning of the Pat Skerry era.

Duane Coverdale -- the director of Delaware Team Takeover and Philmore’s former AAU coach -- said the 6-foot-7 forward is focused on five schools as potential transfer destinations: Dayton, Delaware State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Xavier.

“He wanted to look at the lows, the mids and the highs, see where he's needed more than wanted, see where he fits in, and then make a decision,” Coverdale said Wednesday. “There are no favorites or anything like that. He just has five schools he's looking at, looking at different variables and making a decision.”

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April 20, 2011

Forest Park's Quentin Judd has options

For his first two years of high school, Quentin Judd relied on pickup games and AAU competition to satisfy his basketball fix.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard started his high school career in western Baltimore County at Florence Bertell Academy, which didn’t have a basketball program. A chance meeting with Greate White -- who was then coaching at Walbrook -- changed Judd’s basketball fortunes.

“Actually, I was looking at Anton Waters,” White recalled. “I went to see Anton Waters, they played on the same AAU team (Team Melo). I went up to him and wound up landing him. Quentin Judd came in second.”

Judd and Waters headed to Walbrook for their junior and sophomore seasons, respectively. Then White got the coaching job at Forest Park, and both players were on the move again.

For Judd, transferring to Forest Park for his senior year was an easy decision.

“I felt as though it was a way for me to start off something new,” Judd said. “They talk about Dunbar. I felt as though I could start something on the west side with Forest Park.”

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April 19, 2011

Kameron Williams starring on AAU circuit

Coming off a breakout sophomore season for Mount St. Joseph, Kameron Williams had reasonable expectations heading into the first weekend of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League earlier this month.

“I wanted to play well because Boo Williams [in Hampton, Va.] is a pretty prestigious arena,” said Williams, who plays for Nike Baltimore Elite's 16-and-under team. “And if you have a good showing there, people are going to talk about it. I just wanted to put my name in the mix by having a good weekend.”

kameron-williams.jpg

Williams accomplished that goal in a hurry. In NBE’s opening-round game against the Iowa Attackers on April 8, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound shooting guard scored 33 points. He followed that up with a 47-point outburst against the Atlanta Knicks the next morning, and 33 later that day in a matchup with the Alabama Challenge. His 47-point game tied Memphis swingman Will Barton’s single-game scoring record for Nike Baltimore Elite.

“I was really excited,” Williams said. “I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. I didn’t expect to be doing that well at this particular time.”

Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey received a couple of text messages shortly after Williams' 47-point game on April 9. The Gaels coach wasn't even a little bit surprised to hear so many favorable reviews. After a season in which Williams emerged as one of the best sophomores in the state, Clatchey would have believed almost anything positive about his young guard.

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Aquille Carr, Daquan Cook headed to Italy

cook-carr.jpg Two of Baltimore's top high school basketball players are headed overseas this week for the Junior International Tournament.

Patterson sophomore Aquille Carr and Digital Harbor junior Daquan Cook were picked for the U.S. Elite Select Basketball under-19 team, which will play in the JIT Invitational in Milan, Italy.

“Daquan and Aquille have great ability and I think they are valuable assets to our team," U.S. Elite Select coach Chris Chaney said in a news release. "We will play hard and they will have a platform to display their skills in Europe and win the JIT championship trophy."

The team is scheduled to leave for Milan on Thursday. Tournament play begins Friday and runs through Monday.

Carr was The Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year this winter. He led the Clippers to the Class 4A state championship game, where they fell to North Point.

Cook was a second-team All-Metro selection. In his first season at Digital Harbor, the combo guard guided the Rams to the Class 2A state title.

Baltimore Sun photos of Cook and Carr / 2011

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April 18, 2011

Ex-Poly star Montray Clemons headed to Big East

While his high school rivals landed scholarship offers and became nationally known prospects, Montray Clemons toiled in relative anonymity, wondering when – if ever – his day in the spotlight might come.

As a high school player, Clemons was an overlooked standout for a middling Poly program. In the spring and summer on the AAU circuit with Cecil Kirk, he was overshadowed by those same highly regarded city players.

“When I was in high school, it was all about [Josh] Selby, Will [Barton] and Roscoe [Smith],” Clemons said. “If you wasn't them, you were under the radar. I wanted that. It came so easy to them. So I just worked harder and it added to the fire.”

After a year of prep school at Mack Academy in Charlotte, N.C., Clemons’ hard work on the court has finally paid off. The 6-foot-7½, 222-pound power forward committed to DePaul on Sunday, picking the Blue Demons over Auburn, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas Tech, among others.

“It feels good to finally know where I'm going,” said Clemons, who will join Baltimore natives Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young on DePaul’s roster. “There’s a lot of opportunity there. When I was [in Chicago for my visit], some of the recruiting class was there. I like the style they can bring to the team. We're the face of rebuilding. We can come in and turn it around and win those games.”

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April 14, 2011

Forest Park's Anton Waters 'owns the court'

When Forest Park coach Greate White first met Anton Waters, the Calverton Middle School student was just "a tall but skinny kid with an afro."

It wasn’t long before White – who was then coaching at Walbrook – got a chance to see that skinny kid in action on the basketball court. Waters immediately put on a show for his future coach.

“He can rebound and be the best rebounder in the state -- that was my first impression of this kid,” White said. “After awhile, knowing the kid and seeing him work, other things with him besides rebounding were that this kid is very athletic and he has a big heart. He don’t back down from nothing. He wants every challenge.”

Waters -- one of Baltimore's top prospects in the 2013 class -- came off the bench in his first game as a freshman on Walbrook’s varsity last year. In the Warriors’ next game, Waters was added to the starting lineup and never relinquished that spot. He finished his freshman year leading Walbrook in double doubles.

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April 12, 2011

Isaiah Miles living up to expectations

isaiah-miles.jpg Even before playing in his first varsity game as a freshman at Glenelg Country School, Isaiah Miles had received an inordinate amount of hype.

The scouting report on the now 6-foot-7, 210-pound prospect described an athletic small forward who could put the ball on the floor, block shots and shoot from beyond the arc. Throughout his first two seasons on the Dragons’ varsity, Miles showed flashes of the player that coaches and scouts thought he come become.

This winter, Miles put all those pieces of potential together for one of the best individual seasons in the Baltimore-Washington area.

“I thought he lived up to [the expectations] and I thought he kind of eased into his reputation,” said Kevin Quinlan, Glenelg Country’s first-year coach. “I thought across the season he got better and better. He’s a quiet leader, but I thought he got more comfortable with his role as a leader. I also thought he played really tough down the home stretch, just attacking the glass for us, really lighting it up and scoring. He got better and better as a defender. I think the sky is the limit for Isaiah.”

Any questions about whether or not Miles had taken his game to another level this season were answered Feb. 16 in the Dragons’ MIAA B Conference semifinal against Pallotti. Miles erupted for 31 points, 22 rebounds, and eight blocks, propelling Glenelg Country to a 74-53 win over the Panthers.

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April 7, 2011

Warren Powers 'really improved' this year

warren-powers.jpg In one midseason stretch for the Glenelg Country School boys basketball team, Kevin Quinlan learned everything he needed to know about forward Warren Powers.

On Jan. 21, the Dragons trailed Pallotti by one with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Quinlan – Glenelg Country’s first-year coach – called timeout. He drew up a play off the inbound pass for Powers, but the 6-foot-5, 210-pound sophomore missed the shot as time expired.

Thankfully for Powers, redemption came soon after defeat.

“We got in a similar situation at the end of the Gilman game at our place, the same scenario,” Quinlan said. “We won that game. He’s that kind of kid. He kept his chin up and executed the play a little bit better. He made the right play. He got the shot off and scored. I was real proud of him for that.”

The missed shot against Pallotti “hurt so bad. That shot really stuck with me and I prayed I’d get another chance or opportunity to do it,” Powers said. “Sure enough … I got the same exact shot [against Gillman], the same floater, and it went right through the hoop. I was so thankful for that opportunity and so happy it happened.”

Sophomore year came with lofty expectations for Powers, but time and time again, he delivered. A first-team all-conference selection, Powers teamed with highly touted junior Isaiah Miles to lead the Dragons to the MIAA B Conference championship.

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April 5, 2011

Old Mill guard Eric Savage makes his choice

There was little doubt in Eric Savage's mind about where he wanted to play college basketball. The only question for the Old Mill combo guard was whether or not he'd get the SAT score he needed to make it happen.

On Thursday, Savage received notification that he got his score. He celebrated by committing to Shepherd (W.Va.) University.

“I was really excited when I found out,” Savage said. “I just knew I had to get the score to get to play ball somewhere. … There were definitely other schools looking at me, but Shepherd was the school I actually wanted to go to. I just really liked everything about it.”

Savage, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior, also considered McDaniel, Mount Olive (N.C.), Stevenson, UMES and West Virginia State.

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April 2, 2011

Calvert Hall grad Damion Lee headed to Drexel

damion-lee-st-thomas-more.jpg When Damion Lee decided to spend a post-graduate year at St. Thomas More in Connecticut, the Calvert Hall alum had two primary goals in mind: become a more college-ready player, and find a Division I program that was an ideal fit for him.

Lee quickly accomplished his first objective by emerging as one of the top prep school players in the country. On Friday, he completed his second goal by committing to Drexel.

“It feels great,” Lee said Friday. “I’m happy with my decision and I’m glad that I can have some stress relieved from my shoulders.”

The 6-foot-6, 195-pound wing chose the Dragons over offers from East Carolina, La Salle, Loyola Marymount, Northeastern, TCU, Tulane and Valparaiso.

Lee, who originally signed with Towson in November 2010, was an integral part of the senior-laden Cardinals team that won the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship one year ago. After deciding against joining the Tigers, Lee spent the following summer playing with D.C. Assault on the AAU circuit. He then settled on St. Thomas More – a traditional New England Preparatory School Athletic Council powerhouse – as his next destination.

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March 31, 2011

Digital Harbor's Daquan Cook ready for AAU circuit

daquan-cook-digital-harbor.jpg This winter was a tale of two seasons for Daquan Cook and the Digital Harbor boys basketball team.

Cook was one of several high-profile additions to the Rams’ roster before the season, and the junior combo guard was a major reason for the South Baltimore school’s preseason No. 3 ranking.

Digital Harbor started slow as it struggled to find the right combinations, dropping out of The Sun’s Top 15 poll by January. But Cook said he “was never concerned” about the Rams finding their way.

“I knew our chemistry would come together,” he said. “We just wanted to work harder the second half of the season. We knew what time it was. The second half of the season is where you pick it up, and when the playoffs come, you’ve got to work hard. You can’t take days off in the second half of the season. We put the first half of the season behind us.”

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March 30, 2011

Strong start for Nike Baltimore Elite's 16s

Jamel Williams was cautiously optimistic before the start of the spring AAU basketball season.

Nike Baltimore Elite’s 16-and-under coach had great success with the 15-and-under team last year, and returned the core of that team this spring.

“So this year when we started practice, it was like we never missed a beat,” Williams said. “They came back in, knew their teammates, had the structure, and that just carried over from last year.”

Last weekend, Williams’ optimism was affirmed with NBE’s runner-up finish in the New Jersey Spring Fling -- a 32-team tournament featuring some of the top programs on the East Coast.

Nike Baltimore Elite dropped a 76-72 overtime game to the host New Jersey Playaz in the championship game.

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March 29, 2011

McDonogh DE Allen Jackson picks ACC school

Allen Jackson had no interest whatsoever in getting caught up in a protracted recruiting process.

So the McDonogh defensive end set a self-imposed deadline for making his college choice.

“I didn’t want to wait it out,” Jackson said. “I knew my birthday -- August 4th -- was my cutoff. It was the last day I wanted to be thinking about college. I just wanted to decide and play my senior year and … just enjoy it like a regular high school senior.”

On Saturday afternoon, Jackson beat his deadline by more than four months by committing to Duke during an unofficial visit to Durham, N.C. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior picked the Blue Devils over offers from Maryland, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.

The commitment, Jackson said, felt like “the right decision to make” for a variety of reasons.

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March 23, 2011

Milford Mill's Tevin Hanner picks Loyola

tevin-hanner-loyola.jpg For Tevin Hanner, senior year has been all about leading Milford Mill to its second-straight Class 3A state championship.

With that mission accomplished earlier this month, the 6-foot-5, 185-pound small forward was ready to focus on recruiting. On Monday afternoon, Hanner decided to continue his basketball career close to home by committing to Loyola.

“I felt like it was time,” Hanner said Tuesday. “I felt that it was the perfect fit for me, both academically and athletically. And I felt that based on talking with my family and everything. They felt that I’m ready, so I had to do it. There was no reason to wait.”

Hanner, a Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection, was also recruited by Robert Morris, St. Francis (Pa.) and Towson – before the Tigers made a coaching change. Varsity Sports Network first reported Hanner’s commitment.

Hanner joined the Millers’ JV squad as a freshman before being elevated to varsity by the end of the year. Milford Mill coach Albert Holley called Hanner one of the “hardest-working, most determined players” he has ever coached.

“Tevin’s the kind of player that does it all,” Holley said. “He works hard, he plays hard, he defends, he rebounds, he scores. In practice, he makes all his teammates better. He’s a large part of it.”

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March 16, 2011

St. Frances grad Dante Holmes looking for best fit

dante-holmes-prep-school.jpg Dante Holmes may not be where he expected to be at this point in his basketball career, but there’s still plenty of time for him to get there.

A two-time Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro selection at St. Frances, Holmes was a dynamic wing recruited by several mid- and high-major programs coming out of high school. Holmes committed to Marshall last spring, but after missing NCAA qualifying standards, he had to do a post-grad year instead.

At Oldsmar Christian School near Tampa, Fla., Holmes has made the best out of his prep-school experience.

“He’s been doing real well,” said Carlos Green, a St. Frances assistant and Holmes’ uncle. “He averaged 20.9 points, and they went 30-10. … He shot better than 43 percent from 3-point range. His shot is totally different now.”

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March 14, 2011

Greg Whittington talks Georgetown commitment

Jon Browne went to bed early Sunday, weary from attending a St. Patrick's Day parade and seeking a good night's rest before another day of school at Oakland Mills.

When the Scorpions coach awoke to seven missed calls and several text messages, he thought, “what in the world happened last night?”

Browne quickly discovered what all the fuss was about. Greg Whittington, who led Oakland Mills to a 25-1 season, made an earlier-than-expected commitment, picking Georgetown over Clemson, DePaul, Maryland and Texas.

“I just realized that Georgetown was the best fit for me, so I might as well just commit now,” Whittington said. “I’ll be able to see the world at Georgetown, too.”

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March 13, 2011

McDonogh's Roman Braglio talks Terps pledge

For nearly two hours at the Gossett Team House in College Park on Thursday, Roman Braglio played the role of highly touted recruit and resident state expert.

A lifelong Baltimorean, Braglio chatted with Maryland coach Randy Edsall, inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski and defensive line coach Greg Gattuso about football and much more.

“All the coaches are new here so we talked about restaurants, places to live, just normal conversation,” Braglio said. “It was just real apparent that they were not just trying to get to know me as a football player, but as a person, too.”

Braglio, a defensive end from McDonogh, said he had no intention of committing to the Terps last week. But after the sitdown with the three Maryland coaches, Braglio had a sudden change of heart.

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March 10, 2011

Plenty of options for Boys' Latin OT Greg Pyke

A frequently traveled path for starters on the Boys' Latin lacrosse team goes from high school graduation to a spot on a Division I college roster.

Lakers attackman Greg Pyke could easily follow that route when he finishes high school in 2012. But the 6-foot-5, 315-pound junior has other plans in mind.

“My brother played lacrosse in college [at North Carolina], and my sister [played at James Madison],” Pyke said. “But I’m just built for football. I fit football more easily. I feel more comfortable there. Being a big guy, with lacrosse I kind of feel out of place. But in football, I just like hitting.”

Pyke has done his fair share of that while starting both ways for the Lakers these past two seasons. While Pyke is a more highly rated recruit for lacrosse -- Inside Lacrosse ranks him the No. 8 player in the 2012 class -- plenty of major college football programs are hoping to land the versatile offensive tackle.

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March 9, 2011

Friends' Jon Schmidt headed to Ivy League

Before Jon Schmidt's senior season at the Friends School began, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound forward sat down with Quakers coach Bill Pace to formulate a list of college programs that had piqued his interest.

“We talked about a very small list of schools,” said Pace, a first-year coach at the MIAA B Conference school. “But his educational priorities were [clear]. He knew what he wanted to do.”

What Schmidt – an A student with law-school aspirations – wanted to do was play basketball at an Ivy League school. That goal is now a reality for Schmidt, who will head to Providence, R.I., in the fall to play for Brown.

“It’s just really fantastic,” Schmidt said. “It’s what I’ve wanted since I probably [started] high school. I’ve been working really hard to attain that, and now … I’ve got to work hard, get back in the gym and train so I can play. It’s another motivator for me to keep working hard.”

Schmidt, who averaged about 24 points, 14 rebounds and three assists for the Quakers this winter, committed to the Brown coaches “a couple weeks ago.” But his pledge was firmed up Monday when he received his “likely letter” – which all but assures his acceptance into the school – in the mail.

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March 8, 2011

City's Mike Cheatham headed to Marshall

mike-cheatham-marshall.jpg Mike Cheatham toured Marshall's campus, met with coaches, and experienced everything else that is generally expected to take place during a college visit.

But when it came time for the City guard to depart from Huntington, W.Va., and return home to Baltimore last weekend, there was one last thing he needed to do.

“When I was about to leave [I committed],” Cheatham said. “The campus is good and the town is good. It’s like an overall [nice] environment there. So I can develop things on and off the court.”

A 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, Cheatham also received interest from Drexel, Iona, Robert Morris and UNLV, among others. His commitment was a welcome surprise to the Thundering Herd coaching staff.

“They were pretty excited that I was coming because they really need some extra players to come in and produce for the team,” Cheatham said.

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March 3, 2011

Calvert Hall CB Da'Quan Davis raises his stock

daquan-davis-calvert-hall.jpg In helping Calvert Hall to the 2010 MIAA A Conference championship, Da’Quan Davis became a household name among local high school football followers.

In guiding MD Dream to a second-place finish at the BadgerSports 7-on-7 tournament at Rutgers last weekend, the Cardinals cornerback raised his profile once again, with one recruiting website calling him one of the rising stars of the 2012 class.

“It was a great experience to play against some of the top athletes in the nation,” Davis said. “It was great competition up there. … I feel as though it is essential to go to different places and show your face. You want to see everything that’s out there. That’s where the recruiters and scouts are, and the best of the best that compete at different events. Going against guys from out of the state, if I want to be the best, it’s a chance to go out and compete against the best.”

Davis played opposite Poly defensive back Donovan Riley to form a shutdown secondary for MD Dream. The pair’s performance was no surprise to those who have watched them closely.

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March 2, 2011

Prep school helps Donya Jackson 'a whole lot'

donya-jackson-mercersburg.jpg Since leading Calvert Hall to the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship one year ago, there have been "no days off" for Donya Jackson.

The 2010 BCL Tournament MVP stepped away from the local spotlight after graduation and packed his bags for a post-grad year at Mercersburg Academy. At the Pennsylvania prep school, Jackson has prepared for a college career at the Naval Academy by improving his academics and his game. Developing into a more potent scorer was a top priority for the two-time BCL Defensive Player of the Year.

“I worked on my offensive game a whole lot because I didn’t want to be one-dimensional,” Jackson said. “I didn’t want to just be a stopper. I wanted to be able to stop someone and make it tough for them [to defend] me on the offensive end. … [Prep school] gave me the opportunity to go ahead and do some more things on the offensive end. It’s helped me a whole lot.”

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March 1, 2011

Davon Usher hitting stride at JUCO in Fla.

davon-usher-polk-state.jpg With a hobbled Davon Usher plagued by an "irritated herniated disc" in his back, Polk State College limped to a 3-10 start to its 2010-11 men’s basketball campaign.

When the former Digital Harbor wing returned to full strength, the Vikings’ fortunes changed dramatically.

“What happened was after Christmas, when he became healthy, we’re 14-3 since,” said Polk State coach Matt Furjanic. “So I guarantee you a lot of that happened because he’s healthy now and doing a great job for us.”

A 2010 Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, Usher had planned on spending his college career at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. But when the 6-foot-6 prospect couldn’t get through the NCAA Clearinghouse, junior college became his best option. Furjanic said he found out about Usher’s availability thanks to some college coaches here in Baltimore.

“We’re lucky to have him. We’re really lucky,” Furjanic said. “The assistant coaches at Towson are good friends of ours. They told us about him in the summer. He wasn’t getting the grades. Corpus-Christi backed off when he didn’t get through the clearinghouse. So the coaches from Towson called us and said, ‘Listen, you’ve got to look at this kid. He can really play.’ We signed him [in] like July.”

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February 24, 2011

Hard work paying off for Poly's Donovan Riley

donovan-riley-poly-2010.jpg During the first week of January each year, the most promising junior football prospects in the country converge on San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine.

The invitation-only event has long served as a springboard to national notoriety. Last year, Owings Mills’ Donovan Smith went from an unknown offensive tackle to one of the most heavily recruited linemen in the country.

This year, it was Poly defensive back Donovan Riley’s time to turn some heads. The 6-foot, 190-pound prospect earned rave reviews from scouts, including one analyst who thought he had an MVP-worthy performance.

“That was a test of all the hard work I had been doing,” Riley said. “There was great talent from across the country, which I eventually competed against. I ran a good 40 time -- a 4.5 -- and I competed well against some of the top receivers in the country in the 1-on-1 [drills]. I was able to meet a lot of the [best] 2012 football players from across the country and make friends. It was definitely a great experience, which I look forward to again.”

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February 23, 2011

Derrell Edwards, Stanton Kidd doing well in Texas

edwards-kidd.jpg Steve Green is no stranger to recruiting in Baltimore.

Green, the veteran men’s basketball coach at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, has sent three Baltimore natives to Division I schools in the past seven years, most recently former Douglass guard Itchy Bolden (Morgan State).

Green was back in Baltimore last year when he got word that Dunbar shooting guard Derrell Edwards wasn’t going to end up at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Edmondson forward Stanton Kidd, however, emerged as an unexpected bonus.

“It was more of a coincidence than anything,” Green said. “We knew about [Edwards], visited him and saw the other. He was playing there at the same time. And we just went after both of them then. It wasn’t a ploy from the beginning.”

Edwards and Kidd both signed on to play for the Texans, and are nearing the end of their freshmen seasons. “I think they’re talented guys and good basketball players with good basketball IQ,” Green said. “They’ve been brought up in a pretty tough basketball environment with good competition.”

Continue reading "Derrell Edwards, Stanton Kidd doing well in Texas" »

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February 22, 2011

Greg Whittington has plenty of options

The calls to Jon Browne's cell phone started last summer. At first, it was mostly mid-major Division I programs calling to express interest in Greg Whittington, the Oakland Mills coach's star player.

Then came a trip with HCYP Elite in late July to the AAU Nationals in Orlando, where Whittington powered his rec-center squad to a stunning third-place finish.

“After Orlando, it was just the beginning,” Browne said. The phone “just never stopped ringing.”

Seven months later, the recruitment of Whittington has reached another level. The 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward now has his pick of high-major offers.

“If you haven’t heard of him by now, you haven’t been doing your homework,” Browne said. “He’s national now. Washington, we’ve been in touch a couple times. Texas came to a practice, [and] Texas should be back this week. Maryland, daily contact with them. Georgetown is in daily contact with me. Clemson, daily contact. DePaul is very involved. They come out a lot, talk to me daily. These are teams that really want him. So we’re just waiting until the end of the season to take some trips, get on campus and meet teammates.”

Continue reading "Greg Whittington has plenty of options" »

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February 15, 2011

McManus highlights Next Level Nation event

When Cory Robinson finished his football career at Central Connecticut State, the former Cardinal Gibbons defensive back headed home to Baltimore with hopes of giving back to his community.

Now a counselor at Bluford Drew Jemison Academy and Calvert Hall’s secondary coach, Robinson has accomplished just that. The 23-year-old has teamed with fellow Cardinal Gibbons grad Devin Redd to start Next Level Nation -- a nonprofit organization that holds football combines and showcases, taking a “hands-on approach to the development of student-athletes.”

Next Level Nation is “creating a fraternity of elite athletes that have a respect for one another, but are also chasing the same dream and have the same goals,” Robinson said. “We’re putting it in their hands and helping in anyway. If they commit themselves to what we’re teaching, [we’ll show them] what it takes to get to the next level.”

Among Next Level Nation’s success stories of the 2011 class were Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos (Penn State), DeMatha defensive lineman Kendall Patterson (Buffalo), Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith (Penn State) and Calvert Hall defensive tackle Dan Yarborough (Shepherd). Several Next Level Nation alumni were in attendance Saturday in Landover at an All-Nation Showcase Series event.

Robinson spoke to Recruiting Report about some of the Baltimore area’s top 2012 talents that participated in the event.

Continue reading "McManus highlights Next Level Nation event" »

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February 7, 2011

Kiero Small takes long road to Arkansas

kiero-small-arkansas.jpg When playing college football wasn't an option, Kiero Small turned to the family business.

At The T-Spot – Johnny Stith’s T-shirt shop near Lexington Market on Saratoga – Small helped his father with whatever he needed, getting a crash course in the daily grind of the retail-clothing trade.

It was a long way from where Small had hoped to be as a senior running back and linebacker at Cardinal Gibbons. A Baltimore Sun first-team All City selection in 2006, Small missed NCAA Division I qualifying standards coming out of high school, and then again following a prep-school season.

While living at home and working for his father, Small was initially content, and not “really thinking about [playing college football]. I was like, ‘It just didn’t work out.’”

Said Stith: “It was pretty much a crossroads in his young life – the direction as to which way he wanted to go. Had it been 9-to-5-ing it, had it been school, if he wanted to retire the cleats in general, personally, to me, it wouldn’t have made a difference. … Once he made [his] decision, I backed him fully, 100 percent.”

The choice that Small, 21, made more than two years ago was the first step in his unlikely journey – four years after the completion of his senior season at Gibbons – to major college football. Small, now a 5-foot-10, 255-pound sophomore fullback at Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif., signed a letter of intent to Arkansas on Signing Day last Wednesday.

Continue reading "Kiero Small takes long road to Arkansas" »

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February 2, 2011

Video: Adrian Amos commits to Penn State

Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos signed with Penn State on Wednesday, picking the Nittany Lions over Connecticut and West Virginia. Click on the video player below for his announcement:

 

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:19 PM | | Comments (1)
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Looking at local football signings

We've known for some time that Gilman offensive lineman Hunter Goodwin (Wake Forest), Boys' Latin defensive end Marco Jones (Virginia) and Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith (Penn State) would sign with Football Bowl Subdivision schools today.

We also found out today that Gilman athlete Darius Jennings was bound for Virginia. At around 2:45 p.m., Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos will become the fifth Baltimore-area player that signs with an FBS school, when he decides on either Connecticut, Penn State or West Virginia.

But those five weren't the only local football players to land college scholarships. Here's a list of the expected signees from the area:

Continue reading "Looking at local football signings" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:47 AM | | Comments (3)
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Gilman's Darius Jennings picks Virginia

Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings has committed to Virginia, picking the Cavaliers over Ohio State and Wake Forest.

The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year had also considered Maryland, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Connecticut before trimming his list to three.

The Baltimore Sun's Katherine Dunn will have more on Jennings' commitment later today.

 

The next local player to watch is Calvert Hall safety Adrian Amos, a first-team All-Metro selection. A three-star prospect, Amos has narrowed his list to Penn State, West Virginia and Connecticut -- where he originally committed. Amos' announcement is scheduled for 2:45 p.m.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 9:55 AM | | Comments (2)
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January 21, 2011

Glenelg's Osborne follows 'family destiny' to Navy

colin-osborne-navy.jpg The opportunity to play for a perennial Football Championship Subdivision title contender – and attend a school with "a lot more girls" than your average service academy – made Colin Osborne's decision to commit to James Madison last August an easy one.

Backing out of that commitment to attend the Naval Academy, however, proved nearly as simple. Osborne, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back from Glenelg, switched from the Dukes to the Midshipmen last week – a decision he made based primarily on education.

“I want to be sure I’m guaranteed a job after college,” Osborne said. “I want to make sure that I’m set. With Navy, I knew that I’d be set when I graduate with some type of job. … My head wasn’t really into education [at first]. It was more into JMU and living the free life. But then I had to get my head on straight. It’s more about education, and Navy offered that. I knew I would have a better opportunity there than at JMU because the job economy today isn’t that great.”

Osborne, who rushed for 1,885 yards and 18 touchdowns on 246 carries as a senior, started hearing from the Navy coaches on a regular basis shortly after the conclusion of his season. With a brother currently serving his plebe year at the academy and a father that’s a 24-year veteran of the Navy, it didn’t take much convincing for Osborne to schedule an official visit to Annapolis.

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January 18, 2011

Calvert Hall's Adrian Amos still on the market

adrian-amos-recruiting.jpg Shortly after Maryland hired Randy Edsall away from Connecticut, Adrian Amos withdrew his commitment to the Huskies.

Now with Signing Day just about two weeks away, the Calvert Hall safety is taking steps toward making a final college decision.

“He is going to take his West Virginia visit, probably this weekend,” Cardinals coach Donald Davis said. “And then we’ve got to decide whether he’s going to Vanderbilt, possibly that next weekend.”

West Virginia was the runner-up in Amos’ recruitment when he committed to the Huskies in late August. Vanderbilt got involved after former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin was named the Commodores’ new coach. There’s also a chance Amos ends up at UConn after all, although it's unlikely he'd visit Storrs again.

Continue reading "Calvert Hall's Adrian Amos still on the market" »

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January 8, 2011

Decision is in for Owings Mills' Donovan Smith

donovan-smith-penn-state.jpg Donovan Smith went to San Antonio last year for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl junior combine as an unknown offensive tackle prospect with minimal hype and no scholarship offers.

On Saturday, Smith was back at the Alamodome to participate in the seniors-only all-star game televised live on NBC. This time, however, the Owings Mills standout had 20 offers to choose from and recognition from all in attendance.

Three hats sat on a table in front of Smith, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection, during the second quarter: North Carolina State on his right, Penn State in the center and UCLA on his left. After thanking his friends and family in attendance, the 6-foot-5, 295-pound left tackle reached to the middle.

“Looks like I’m going to be playing in State College,” Smith said as he put on the Nittany Lions cap amid applause from his supporters.

A four-star prospect, Smith became the 12th commitment of Penn State’s 2011 recruiting class and the Nittany Lions’ fourth offensive line pledge. Rivals.com rates him the No. 199 senior nationally and the No. 5 prospect in Maryland.

Continue reading "Decision is in for Owings Mills' Donovan Smith" »

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December 31, 2010

Gilman's Darius Jennings focused on three

darius-jennings-chesapeake-bowl.jpg A preview of how Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings could be used in college was on display Thursday night at the inaugural Chesapeake Bowl at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

With Greyhounds coach Biff Poggi manning the sideline for the South roster, Jennings took handoffs, threw the ball and split wide at receiver en route to a 150-yard day. The four-star prospect completed passes of 20 and 49 yards, in addition to scoring on a 10-yard run to propel the South to a 30-27 win over the North.

After the game, Jennings spoke about the three college programs still in the mix for his services.

“Ohio State, Virginia, Wake Forest,” said Jennings, who trimmed Maryland, UCLA and Virginia Tech from his list. “I take my official to Wake Forest on Jan. 14. I’ve already been to Virginia and Ohio State. Sometime after Jan. 14, I’ll make my decision.”

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December 18, 2010

Blake Countess discusses Michigan commitment

When it became clear to Blake Countess that he would play football in college, the Good Counsel cornerback kick-started the recruiting process by formulating a short list of schools.

The main criterion for the four-star prospect and Reisterstown resident was simple.

“I was looking for a school with a degree that meant something,” Countess said Saturday. “Michigan was always on my list. [Wolverines wide receivers] coach [Tony] Dews told me he was going to keep pushing for me to get an offer from the coaching staff. It finally came midseason. They wanted to see some senior tape. But it finally came around midseason, and that's all she wrote.”

Countess, a second-team Washington Post All-Met selection, committed to Michigan on Thursday, picking the Wolverines over offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina State, among others.

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November 30, 2010

Damion Lee stands out at prep school

damion-lee-st-thomas-more.jpg The surroundings are different, but the spotlight is just as bright this season for Damion Lee.

The 2010 Calvert Hall graduate, who helped the Cardinals to last spring’s Baltimore Catholic League championship, is now spending a post-grad season at perennial prep powerhouse St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn. Earlier this month, Lee was one of the standout players at the National Prep Showcase in New Haven, Conn.

“Damion really came out and he was tremendous. On [the first day of the tournament], we played Lee Academy from Maine, beat them handily,” said St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn, who noted that Lee scored 19 points in the win. “It was a great learning experience. I thought the kid was good, and it was good for him seeing what was out there and recognizing prep schools for what they really are, especially the high level of competition.”

Lee, a 6-foot-5 wing and second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection as a senior, signed a letter of intent to Towson last fall, but reevaluated his decision over the course of the school year. Lee, a full qualifier who just turned 18 this fall, decided a post-grad season would be best for his development.

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November 17, 2010

Local players starting for Princeton Day team

delmore-howard.jpg After a year spent on the road, Chris Chaney is back in his home state with a new basketball venture.

Chaney, a Southern High graduate who led two prep powerhouses (Patterson and Laurinburg) in North Carolina, has teamed with Rich Marcucci to start a post-grad basketball program at Princeton Day Academy. The Lanham school already features a nationally renowned high school program coached by Baltimore native Van Whitfield. Chaney has big plans for his squad as well.

“It’s not really a prep school – it’s more of a training academy,” Chaney said. “There are really only three in the U.S. – IMG [in Florida], Impact Academy in Las Vegas and us. Our competition, especially in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area, is really nobody.”

While Princeton Day’s post-grad team focuses on individual skill development, strength and conditioning and film study, there are also plenty of opportunities for game competition. This weekend Chaney will take his team to New Haven, Conn., for the National Prep Showcase. The Storm will feature three Maryland players in their rotation: former Annapolis forward Delmore Howard, former Towson Catholic point guard Kareem Storey, and former Surrattsville guard Richard Harris -- the nephew of Terps legend Len Bias.

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November 15, 2010

Nick Faust signs letter of intent to Maryland

nick-faust-city-1.jpg In theory, the recruitment of Nick Faust should have ended Oct. 28 when the four-star shooting guard committed to Maryland during a live broadcast on ESPNU.

In reality, that very-public commitment didn’t stop several schools from continuing to pursue the City senior.

“Nothing really has changed [since the commitment],” Faust said. “I don’t get less calls. They still call me all the time, check up on me and see how I’m doing, things like that.”

After Monday, attention from other colleges will finally cease. Before a crowd of friends, family, teammates, coaches, local politicians and members of the media at City’s library, Faust signed his national letter of intent to attend Maryland.

“You know, it’s a great feeling,” Faust said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished something over my whole life. It just paid off. … I’ve just been wanting to get it over with and get it done and finally be an official Terp.”

Continue reading "Nick Faust signs letter of intent to Maryland" »

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November 13, 2010

Local hoops notebook: South Carroll guard goes DI

ryan-mctavish.jpg The list of former Carroll County basketball players at Division I schools is a short one.

On Wednesday, South Carroll wing Ryan McTavish became a member of that exclusive club when he signed a letter of intent to attend Presbyterian College, a DI program located in Clinton, S.C.

“It seemed like I fit in really well down there,” McTavish said. “I really like the coaches and all the players.”

McTavish, a 6-foot-4 senior, averaged 19.8 points and 9.3 rebounds for the Cavaliers. A two-time All-Carroll County selection, McTavish said he was also recruited by Army, Campbell, Lafayette and Navy.

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November 11, 2010

Milford Mill's Isaiah McCray signs with Colgate

isaiah-mccray-colgate.jpg When the time came for Isaiah McCray to pick a high school, the talented young combo guard was briefly torn between a local private school and Milford Mill.

While the basketball aspect of both high schools that McCray considered was fine, there was a notable difference that gave the edge to the Millers: advanced placement classes.

“His father took him to the [private] school, let him stay there and ask around,” said Fred McCathorine, McCray’s coach with the Crusader Nation youth basketball program. “And he said, ‘I don’t want to go there because I want to do the advanced placement classes and I want to do the college prep classes. This school just doesn’t have what I need to do.’ He checked into Milford Mill and found out that they did. From the beginning, from the time I met him as a middle school kid, I knew he was a kid that was truly a student first, and then an athlete.”

Over the next three years at Milford Mill, McCray proved his coach correct by starring on the court for the Millers, and earning consistently high marks in the classroom. So when it came time this fall for McCray to pick a college, the 3.7 student once again made academics his top priority. On Wednesday, during a ceremony at Milford Mill, McCray signed a letter of intent to attend Colgate, a Patriot League school located in Hamilton, N.Y.

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November 10, 2010

Owings Mills OT Donovan Smith making trips

The high school football career of Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith is over. Now it’s time for the 6-foot-6, 260-pound senior to focus on his college future.

Smith -- a four-star player, the No. 4 senior prospect in Maryland and the No. 199 player nationally according to Rivals.com -- has made two official visits and has another two on tap.

“With football and school, I put recruiting towards the back. But now that [our season’s] done, I can focus on it now,” said Smith, whose Golden Eagles finished 4-6. “I have Maryland, Michigan State, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Penn State. I’m still iffy about UConn.”

Smith traveled to East Lansing, Mich., on Sept. 17 for his first official visit. At Spartan Stadium, Smith saw Michigan State’s stunning 34-31 overtime win – courtesy of a fake field goal – over Notre Dame.

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November 9, 2010

Overview of Baltimore's 2011 hoops class

Twenty-one basketball players from the Baltimore area begin Division I college careers this month – including 11 at high-major schools – while another five local players in the 2011 class are set to sign national letters of intent either this week or next.

For a closer look at 10 of the city’s freshmen, check out this story from Sun intern Mike Miller. Here’s a list of all 21 players.

NameLocal high schoolCollege
Eric AtkinsMount St. JosephNotre Dame
Antonio BartonLake CliftonMemphis
Will BartonLake CliftonMemphis
Ryley BeaumontMount St. JosephElon
Dylon CormierCardinal GibbonsLoyola
C.J. FairCitySyracuse
Anthony GoodeMilford MillSt. Francis (Pa.)
Jonathan GrahamCalvert HallPenn State
Justin JacksonDigital HarborMorgan State
Jordan LathamCityXavier
Cleveland MelvinLake CliftonDePaul
Levi NoelTowson CatholicEastern Illinois
Auraum NuiriankhArundelBuffalo
Aron NwankwoCityPittsburgh
Shane ReyboldReservoirUNC-Wilmington
Devon SaddlerAberdeenDelaware
Josh SelbyLake CliftonKansas
Roscoe SmithWalbrookConnecticut
Wayne SparrowSt. FrancesRichmond
John TatumHowardSouthern
Brandon YoungFriendship Collegiate (D.C.)DePaul


So how does Baltimore’s 2011 class stack up with the 2010 group? During the fall period, which begins Wednesday, five local players are expected to sign letters of intent. Nick Faust, the No. 37 senior in the country according to ESPN.com, will sign with Maryland on Monday during a ceremony at City. St. Frances’ Greg Lewis, ESPN.com’s 14th-ranked center for the 2011 class, will sign with Rutgers. Former Lake Clifton wing Durand Johnson, a three-star prospect who’s spending a post-grad year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, is headed to Pittsburgh. As it stands now, those are Baltimore’s only high-major players for the 2011 class.

Continue reading "Overview of Baltimore's 2011 hoops class" »

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November 4, 2010

Catonsville's Tyler Weedon still on the board

tyler-weedon.jpg Every Catonsville football game over the past four seasons has featured Tyler Weedon starting at middle linebacker. A two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro defensive team selection, the Comets' star player recorded 135 tackles as a junior.

But in college, it looks like Weedon’s future might be on the offensive side of the ball. The 5-foot-10, 230-pound senior is receiving most of his recruiting interest at fullback, according to Catonsville coach Rich Hambor. Schools are apparently shying away from Weedon at linebacker because of his height, but they’ve also been impressed by his bruising running style and ability to deliver punishing blocks.

“He’s doing really well. I think he’s shown this year that he can carry the ball as well as block,” Hambor said. “At fullback, he doesn’t need the height. He’s a barreling kind of guy in there. His foot speed is above average. It’s not track speed, but I think he makes a better fullback because he’s really going straight ahead.”

Continue reading "Catonsville's Tyler Weedon still on the board" »

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November 2, 2010

Old Mill guard Eric Savage on Div. I radar

eric-savage-old-mill.jpg The basketball resume of Old Mill point guard Eric Savage reads something like this:

Three-year starter. Anne Arundel County champion. Member of the state Class 4A runner-up Patriots. Valuable rotation player for the Baltimore Assault AAU team.

Savage enters his fourth and final varsity season as one of Anne Arundel County’s most accomplished players. Patriots coach Greg Smith has been impressed with Savage’s potential from Day One.

“Well initially we thought, obviously, he was a very talented basketball player,” Smith said. “He started as a freshman on a team that was a pretty good basketball team. We got beat in the regional finals, won a county championship, but coming in you could just tell his jump shot was a more pure jump shot than I’ve seen in many kids, especially at that age. He has unique skills that make him a special basketball player.”

Continue reading "Old Mill guard Eric Savage on Div. I radar" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 2:57 PM | | Comments (0)
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October 30, 2010

St. Frances' Greg Lewis headed to Rutgers

greg-lewis-sfa.jpg Relationships built years ago made all the difference in the recruitment of Greg Lewis.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound power forward from St. Frances enjoyed learning from Mike Rice at Hoop Group basketball camps earlier in his playing career. And Lewis bonded with former D.C. Assault coach David Cox when he was an assistant at Georgetown.

Today Rice is the head coach at Rutgers, while Cox serves as his top assistant. On Friday night, thanks in large part to the relationships he built with Rice and Cox, Lewis became Rutgers’ newest commitment.

“I was always interested in Rutgers,” Lewis said Saturday. “But once [Rice] got the job, that took it to another level. My relationship with Coach Rice -- I always knew he was a good coach with a passion for the game. That kind of matched my attitude, so I knew we would click. ... I’ve known [Cox] for about three years. Our relationship got stronger once he got to Rutgers."

Continue reading "St. Frances' Greg Lewis headed to Rutgers" »

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October 28, 2010

Nick Faust discusses his Maryland commitment

nick-faust-terps-recruiting.jpg Life in the spotlight is something Nick Faust has grown accustomed to throughout the past year.

In that time, the 6-foot-5, 175-pound senior shooting guard from City has played on the Comcast Center floor with the Knights, traveled coast to coast with a Nike-sponsored basketball team, and listened to Maryland fans chant his name as he sat in the M&T Bank Stadium stands while the Terps’ football team battled Navy last month.

But none of that prepared Faust for Thursday, when he revealed his college commitment during a live broadcast on ESPNU.

“It was very nerve-wracking,” Faust said in an interview at The Baltimore Sun. “But I got through it. ... I’ve been waiting a long time, my family’s been waiting. It feels good to make the decision.”

Faust’s decision was to continue his basketball career at Maryland, giving the Terps a centerpiece for their 2011 recruiting class.

Over the past year, Faust has helped his high school team win a state title, been recognized as a Top 50 player by all the major scouting services, and had the luxury of choosing from a number of quality scholarship offers from Division I schools. While the path that led to Faust’s Maryland commitment may have appeared short, it’s been a long time coming, say those who know him best.

Continue reading "Nick Faust discusses his Maryland commitment" »

Posted by Matt Bracken at 8:46 PM | | Comments (14)
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City guard Nick Faust headed to Maryland

nick-faust-commits-maryland.jpg City shooting guard Nick Faust will stay close to home for college.

The 6-foot-5, 175-pound senior is headed to Maryland. He announced his decision Thursday on ESPNU.

“I felt it was the best place for me to mature on and off the court,” Faust said.

A four-star prospect and second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro team member, Faust led City to the Class 2A state championship in March. On the AAU circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite over the spring and summer, Faust’s stock soared.

“What I saw was a guy who clearly had something to prove, and it was time he took full advantage of it,” said Dave Telep, a senior college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. “From the NBA [Top 100] Camp through the end of the summer, he really shot the ball exceptionally well. When the best players were on the floor, that’s when he was at his best. He was the surprise player at the NBA Camp. He was terrific at the King City Classic. … He earned everything that came to him, and he did it with attention to detail on offense. He’s a guy who can play behind the arc, and he just kept getting back to the basket all summer. He really has a sneaky element of athleticism.”

Faust joins Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) point guard Sterling Gibbs in Maryland’s 2011 basketball recruiting class. The fall signing period runs from Nov. 10-17.

Check back with Recruiting Report later tonight for more on Faust’s commitment.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 5:35 PM | | Comments (12)
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Decision day for City guard Nick Faust

Today is announcement day for City shooting guard Nick Faust.

The 6-foot-6, 175-pound senior will make his college choice public on ESPNU's Recruiting Insider show, which starts at 5 p.m. The segment on Faust is tentatively scheduled for 5:45. We'll have full coverage of Faust's decision on Recruiting Report soon after.

Until then, check out this highlight tape of Faust, courtesy of CapitolHoops.com.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 7:21 AM | | Comments (13)
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October 27, 2010

Josh Selby, Kansas still waiting on NCAA decision

The college career of former Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby remains in limbo.

Kansas coach Bill Self released a statement Wednesday addressing the status of Selby, The Baltimore Sun's 2009-10 Varsity Male Athlete of the Year.

“Josh’s status for competition hasn’t changed. While he has met NCAA academic requirements to be on aid, practice and compete this year, we continue to work with the NCAA as we review his amateur status. We will not play Josh in games until that process is complete and a decision is rendered.

“We support and respect the process, and hope that it is over sooner rather than later. But we don’t expect a decision on this before the regular season begins. We will not comment further until the process is complete.”

josh-selby-kansas-ncaa.jpg



McClatchy-Tribune photo of Josh Selby by John Sleezer / Oct. 12, 2010.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 4:52 PM | | Comments (2)
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Former city hoops stars headed to Texas Southern

strong-greene.jpg The paths of Brandon Greene and Omar Strong crossed occasionally throughout their early years of basketball in Baltimore.

Greene (Towson Catholic) and Strong (Douglass) both participated in the 2008 Charm City Challenge, and the pair ran into each other once in awhile at open gyms or workouts.

When Greene and Strong missed NCAA qualifying standards after graduating from high school, both ended up at Cecil College and struck a bond. And when an opportunity to play together for their final two years of college at Texas Southern -- a Division I program in Houston -- presented itself, the Baltimore duo jumped at the chance. Greene and Strong committed to the Tigers earlier this month.

“We were just thinking, two of us [at Cecil could] end up as a package deal,” Greene said. “Me and Omar didn’t realize it was going to be us two. We knew each other before we came to Cecil because we’re both from Baltimore. But me and him got real close my freshman year, and when we both redshirted [last season]. That brought us together even more. Just going on the visit together just made our bond even more, and what we can do at a school like Texas Southern. We talk about it every night.”

Added Strong: “I think it’s going to be really important because I knew Brandon for a very long time. … Me and him are real tight. We bonded with each other, going down to Texas Southern. I’m not going to let him down. I’m thinking it’s going to be [our] show once we get down there. … It’s going to be a good look.”

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October 26, 2010

Friends' Jon Schmidt has Ivy League aspirations

On the eve of Nike Baltimore Elite’s first game of the open period in July, Carlton "Bub" Carrington fielded "five or six" calls from college coaches eager to get a glimpse of Jon Schmidt the following day.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward from the Friends School had fared well in the earlier part of the AAU season, landing a spot in Carrington’s starting lineup. July was Schmidt’s time to shine in front of Division I coaches.

“I was stretching for the first day of July,” Schmidt recalled. “You do those high kicks where you kick out. It just popped. That was it for the summer. [I was out for] like eight weeks.”

The diagnosis was a torn hamstring, leaving Nike Baltimore Elite without its starting power forward, and Schmidt -- an athletic shooter with impressive handles -- without a chance to earn a scholarship during the summer.

“That was very disappointing,” Schmidt said. “I lost a lot of people looking at me during that period. It’s been really tough to get back to having people see me.”

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October 23, 2010

Varsity debut for Masonville Cove Academy

Before Jimmy Conyers was the leading scorer on a 24-11 Akron team, the 6-foot-5 forward learned the fundamentals of basketball at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Baltimore.

Before Donya Jackson was a two-time Baltimore Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year at Calvert Hall, he honed his game on the same middle-school court several years before Conyers starred for the Zips.

The common thread for both players at Benjamin Franklin Middle School was coach William Russell, who eventually adopted the Navy-bound Jackson.

“Coach Russell, if you’re a young guy trying to make it, he’ll help you in all aspects with advice, being there, and he’ll definitely be that father figure,” Conyers said. “He’s a coach that will definitely be there and help you and give you advice.”

This year will present a new challenge for Russell, who is guiding Masonville Cove Academy in its first season of varsity basketball. The former Benjamin Franklin Middle School has transitioned to a high school over the past three years. Masonville Cove Academy, with 237 students in grades nine through 11, had a junior varsity team coached by Russell last year. Now it’s time for Russell’s squad to take the next step.

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October 21, 2010

Summer hoops recap: Crusader Nation

trey-clinton-msj.jpg For the past 24 years Fred McCathorine has spent the spring and summer months crisscrossing the country with his Crusader Nation boys’ basketball teams.

The summer of 2010 was McCathorine’s last as a coach, although he’ll continue in his role as Crusader Nation’s program director in the years to come. While he’ll miss roaming the sidelines, he’ll always remember his last team, which was composed mostly of players that joined the program as 13-year-olds. One moment this summer, on a trip to a tournament in New Jersey, was especially memorable for McCathorine.

“We had an early game,” McCathorine said. “I told them [at the hotel], ‘You need to go upstairs, get to bed, get some rest and meet me down here at 7 [a.m.]. When I came down at 7 and turned the corner, they were all standing by the elevator. They said, ‘Coach Mac, you’re late. You always say we have to be there five minutes early.’ So they were easy to travel with and they’re great young men. They’re a bunch of bright young men focused on getting a college degree.”

Here’s a player-by-player look at Crusader Nation’s 17-and-under squad:

• Mount St. Joseph center Trey Clinton is known for his inside play, but McCathorine was impressed this summer by the 6-foot-8 senior’s ability to step outside the paint. “Trey, to my surprise this season, developed a great mid-range jumper. … We asked him to take jump shots from the foul line. We run a play where everyone is out at the four corners. We get the ball to his corner and Trey will take that 3. The biggest thing with Trey Clinton is his ability to knock down that 3, and that helped us stretch the defense." McCathorine said he thinks Clinton will sign during the fall period. A 3.8 student, Clinton has received interest from Brown, Catholic, Lafayette, Navy, Penn State, Princeton and South Florida.

Continue reading "Summer hoops recap: Crusader Nation" »

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October 20, 2010

St. Frances' R.J. Williams in no rush to pick school

rj-williams-sfa.jpg Looks can be deceiving when it comes to R.J. Williams.

At 5 feet 8, 150 pounds, the St. Frances point guard rarely intimidates his opponents physically. But on the court, few players locally have successfully matched up with the Panthers senior. This summer was all about Williams attempting to do the same on a national level with Nike Baltimore Elite.

In the opinion of NBE coach Carlton “Bub” Carrington, Williams more than held his own.

“He’s been just the figurehead of the program the last couple of years,” Carrington said. “At every age group, the ball has been in his hands. It’s been a joy to coach. Again, it’s just a situation where he’s going to make a head coach look like a genius. Somebody is going to take a chance on him and he’s going to win a lot of games.”

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October 19, 2010

City's Nick Faust closing in on his decision

nick-faust-terps-villanova.jpg Time is winding down in the recruitment of City shooting guard Nick Faust.

The 6-foot-5, 175-pound senior is fresh off a trip to College Park for Maryland Madness and has plans to make an official visit to Villanova this weekend.

After that, the consensus four-star prospect will make his decision during a special on ESPNU scheduled for Oct. 28. In addition to the Terps and Wildcats, Florida State also remains under consideration.

“I want him to have a clear mind before the beginning of his season starts,” said Anthony Faust, Nick’s father.

Anthony Faust said his son had “a great experience” Friday night at Comcast Center. The Knights standout sat with Terps point guard commitment Sterling Gibbs behind the Maryland bench.

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October 14, 2010

City guard Mike Cheatham raises his profile

mike-cheatham-city.jpg When Nike Baltimore Elite needed scoring this summer, Carlton "Bub" Carrington usually turned to City shooting guard Nick Faust. When the veteran AAU coach wanted to feed the post, he looked no further than St. Frances power forward Greg Lewis. And when Carrington had to have a stop, the responsibility fell to City combo guard Mike Cheatham, a lockdown defender with an expanding offensive game.

“Mike’s role has always been to [guard] the best offensive player. He’s one of the best on-ball defenders I’ve ever seen,” Carrington said. “However, he came into his own in the middle of the season, right about when we went to Houston. He started scoring the ball at will, and it just carried over to Los Angeles. Going into the summer, it was always Nick [scoring], and trying to get the ball into Greg, establish our post presence early. Then Mike would kind of go where he fit in, then just step up and start making shots. Mike and Sam [Cassell Jr.] made a lot of shots from the perimeter.”

Cheatham, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, has always prided himself on defense. But he relished the chance this summer to showcase his underrated scoring ability. Cheatham was able to do so on the AAU circuit’s biggest stage – the inaugural season of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League.

“It was real high-profile,” Cheatham said. “You know everybody you’re playing against, you know what each team can do – they go through the whole scouting report. But it was good.”

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October 13, 2010

St. Frances' Greg Lewis taking trips, making plans

greg-lewis-sfa.jpg The end of the recruiting process is fast approaching for St. Frances senior Greg Lewis.

Rivals.com’s 14th-ranked center for the 2011 class took an official visit to Rutgers last weekend and plans to make a trip to South Florida before the end of the month. Maryland and Indiana are also involved with Lewis.

For Greg Lewis Sr., his son’s high-profile recruitment has been – believe it or not – a bit of a surprise.

“Maybe it’s because I still look at Greg like a little kid that’s being evaluated,” Lewis Sr. said Tuesday. “This summer, and looking at him now, I can see why. Prior to that, I didn’t see all this coming. … I think that the buzz was out there, but we weren’t sure if Greg was wanted because of his skills or because of his height. As far as recruiting, he’s done a wonderful job this summer at camps, demonstrating his skills. Certain schools would come and visit to see exactly what he could do, and then the interest and buzz grew.”

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October 12, 2010

Dunbar's Deontay McManus has many DI options

deontay-mcmanus.jpg
Two years ago college football recruiters flocked to Dunbar for a glimpse at record-breaking running back Tavon Austin. Now the Poets have another national recruit drawing all sorts of attention from Division I coaches.

Deontay McManus, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior, is a physical wide receiver and playmaking safety for the 5-1 Poets. According to Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith, McManus already has scholarship offers from Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina State, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina and Virginia.

“They compare him to [Ravens wide receiver] Anquan Boldin because he has the same physical makeup,” Smith said. “He’s built like a man. That’s the biggest thing – his physicality. He’s a real physical-type player. That really sets him apart at the high school level.”

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October 7, 2010

Ex-Dunbar wing Jamel Artis impressing in N.J.

For the early part of this school year, Jamel Artis has been transitioning from one high school basketball powerhouse to another.

Artis, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound junior, left Baltimore behind this fall for Newark, N.J., where the former Dunbar small forward is settling in to St. Benedict’s Prep.

Roshown McLeod, the former Duke standout, NBA player and Indiana University assistant coach, is in his first year as St. Benedict’s coach. Adding Artis to the Gray Bees’ loaded roster has been a positive move thus far.

“He’s getting better every day,” McLeod said. “I love his versatility and being able to play the 1 through 4 for us. His passing is exceptional. I don’t think anyone realized how effective he was with his passing ability. His ability to play multiple positions is the thing I like most about him.”

Artis was a valuable rotation member for the Poets last season – until their run to the Class 1A state championship. Struggles in the classroom forced Artis to watch Dunbar’s title run from the sidelines.

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October 6, 2010

Ex-Gibbons center Kanu Aja at N.J. prep school

kanu-aja.jpg On Sept. 24, Vincent Robinson called the mother of Kanu Aja to find out where her 6-foot-9, 260-pound son was attending school this fall.

On Sept. 26, Aja had left his Finksburg home for Kearny, N.J., where he signed up as a fifth-year student and basketball player at The Robinson School.

“The first time I saw him play was at the Hoop Group Elite camp,” Robinson said of the former Cardinal Gibbons center. “I saw him play but I didn’t speak to him because I figured he already had a school. A college coach called me and said, ‘Take a look at him.’ … His mom wanted him to move out of the area and be able to focus on the academics in a place where he could be seen. I know he went to a few different high schools. And she wanted a situation where he would actually be getting playing time and getting some individual instruction. At the other schools, he barely played. He was on the team, but he never played much.”

Aja’s high school career in Baltimore was filled with setbacks. He went to Mount St. Joseph as a freshman and played sparingly. Then it was off to Towson Catholic for two years, a stint which included two foot surgeries and an ill-advised reclassification. When the Archdiocese of Baltimore closed TC, Aja moved on to Cardinal Gibbons, only to go through the same process of his school closing all over again. During the summer, Aja suited up for Nike Baltimore Elite on the AAU circuit, but Robinson heard from college coaches that Aja played “five, maybe 10 minutes a game.” While Aja’s path to The Robinson School hasn’t been ideal, his new coach thinks he’s ready to turn a corner.

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October 4, 2010

John Carroll's Malcolm McMillan reaches decision

malcolm-mcmillan-central.jpg
When it was time for Malcolm McMillan to pick a high school, the Harford County resident considered John Carroll’s tradition and Patriots coach Tony Martin’s penchant for producing Division I players.

When Martin met McMillan at John Carroll’s basketball camp for eighth-graders, he saw a “tough, physical” player that had all the makings of a future DI prospect.

On Saturday night, the Division I expectations of McMillan and Martin were met. McMillan, now a 6-foot, 185-pound senior point guard, committed to Central Connecticut State on a visit to the school over the weekend. He chose the Blue Devils over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Mount St. Mary’s, St. Francis (Pa.) and UNC-Wilmington.

“[The team is] always together and they’re like a family. They made me feel right at home,” McMillan said. “I had a great time with the guys. My host was Shemik Thompson. He did a great job showing me around. They work hard, and their main focus is defense and rebounding.”

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September 30, 2010

Baltimore's Div. I hoops players for 2010-11

Is Baltimore's basketball talent being underrated? In Carlton "Bub" Carrington's opinion, that's definitely the case.

After chatting with the Nike Baltimore Elite coach about Sam Cassell Jr., conversation eventually turned to City shooting guard Nick Faust and his rise from a little-known regional recruit to a nationally renowned high-major talent over the course of four months.

"Nick Faust was always good," Carrington said. "He was always a Top 25 player, but we don't have those national type [of events and recognition]. So he started outside the Top 100 when he should've been in the Top 25 from the start. He still is a way better prospect than 10 other shooting guards that are ranked ahead of him, and the proof is in the pudding.

"You go back to Bootsy Thornton, Juan Dixon, Marcus Hatten. Those guys didn't have numbers next to their names, but they led their teams to championships. Those kids were always good. We just don't have the media spotlight. We're a little bit behind the eight ball."

Carrington said the Baltimore-Washington area, per capita, has more pro players than any area other than Chicago. In other words, the amount of talent exceeds the size of the city.

"You can go from one end of Baltimore to the other," Carrington said. "It takes you 10 minutes to go from Walbrook Junction to [the eastern end of] North Avenue. That's how small Baltimore is. For us to put out that level of talent and have that quality of basketball, it's amazing."

For proof of Carrington's point on the city's amount of talent, look no further than this list of Division I players -- by my count, 66 -- from the Baltimore area. Let me know if there's anyone I missed.

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September 28, 2010

New team for Sam Cassell Jr. as a senior

For the first chapter of his high school career, Sam Cassell Jr. starred for Towson Catholic’s junior varsity. The 6-foot-2 combo guard followed that up with a standout junior season for St. Frances’ varsity. Now the senior from Baltimore is readying for his final act away from home. sam-cassell-jr.jpg

Cassell, a valuable rotation player for the Panthers one year ago, is spending his senior year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.

“His family put out some feelers. It was something they were interested in,” said Crusaders coach Ryan Hurd. “I felt like it was a good fit. He’s the kind of kid we’re looking for. We’re definitely excited to have him. … I’d seen him play a couple of times. He fits in real well with what we like to do. He plays at the tempo we play at, he defends and scores. Along with all that, he understands the game well enough to get other people involved. Dealing with as many talented kids as we have on the roster, that’s going to be important.”

Several Baltimore players have suited up for Notre Dame Prep, most recently former Lake Clifton point guard Antonio Barton (Memphis), former Lake Clifton forward Cleveland Melvin (DePaul), former Towson Catholic forward Levi Noel (Eastern Illinois) and former Forest Park guard Antoine Myers (Pensacola Junior College) on last season’s roster.

Hurd said he switches his lineups frequently and doesn’t have a set of starters in mind just yet. But so far, he has been impressed with Cassell’s attitude and his ability to run the point.

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AAU recap: Baltimore Assault

lamont-huggins.jpg If the goal of an AAU basketball program is to get as many players Division I looks as possible, then Baltimore Assault’s second season on the circuit was a successful one.

Assault coach Nick Myles said his squad didn’t have a headliner this season. Rather, the adidas-sponsored program was a team full of integral parts.

Here’s a player-by-player look at Baltimore Assault’s 17-and-under squad:

• Former Douglass power forward Lamont Huggins returned for a second season with Assault and fared well on the block. “He’s an athletic power forward,” Myles said. “He really worked on his 18-foot face-up jumper. He rebounds at a high level.” The 6-foot-8 Huggins, who’s spending a post-grad year at Southern Carolina Prep, has drawn interest from Morgan State, Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac and St. Francis (Pa.).

• Digital Harbor point guard Kevin Smith was probably the most recognizable name on Assault’s roster. The former Baltimore Freedom Academy scoring machine showed off his floor-general skills this summer. “The kid is quick with the ball in his hands,” Myles said. “He’s quick, he’s athletic, and the thing that really changed in his game is that he’s a pass-first point guard. Everyone knows Kevin for his scoring, but he really does have great floor vision. He’s distributing the ball a lot more than he used to, which has made his game a lot better.” Myles said Central Florida, Marshall, Rutgers, South Florida and UNC-Wilmington, among others, are involved in Smith’s recruitment.

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September 16, 2010

Bowie State hoops loads up on Baltimore talent

Darrell Brooks got off to a good start as Bowie State’s men’s basketball coach in his first year back at his alma mater.

The longtime George Washington assistant guided the Bulldogs to a 16-10 record last season. This year, he’ll attempt to better that mark with the help of a few former Baltimore City high school stars.

Brooks has added four Baltimore natives to the Bulldogs’ roster for the 2010-11 season: Trawn Rogers, a 6-foot-8, 185-pound forward from St. Frances, Byron Westmoreland, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound shooting guard from Mervo, Julian Harrell, a 6-foot point guard from Good Counsel, and Tyrone Lawson, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Northwestern.

“One of the things I really like about Baltimore kids, and I’ve recruited the area for a long time, is that they’re very tough, hard-working kids, no matter if their game is big or small. That’s what I like about Baltimore kids,” Brooks said.

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September 15, 2010

New additions to Digital Harbor hoops team

Fresh off a string of strong performances at the Craig Cromwell Summer League at The Dome, Digital Harbor coach Johnnie Grimes received some exciting – albeit unexpected – news about his squad.

Kevin Smith, the former Baltimore Freedom Academy point guard, had enrolled at Digital Harbor for his senior year after spending his junior season at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep. Smith’s transfer home was a welcome surprise for Grimes.

“A week before school, his mom told me,” Grimes said. “We have always talked … and she had said if they ever decided to come back home, that would be the place. So it wasn’t like I recruited him or anything. She just thought it was the best school for Kevin to go to. It was a shock to me that Kevin was coming to Digital. … But that was the piece we were missing, especially in the tough division we’re playing in.”

With the addition of Smith to Digital Harbor, Grimes has a seemingly loaded roster, especially on the perimeter. Junior point guard Daquan Cook will make his Rams debut after sitting out last season following his transfer from St. Frances, while Ronald Epps, a junior guard, is also on board after transferring from City. Grimes also welcomes cousins Antonio and Nyme Manns, both junior forwards, and Dominic Barnes, a junior guard who was injured last year.

Grimes is counting on each of those players to make a significant contribution this season. He’s also looking for Smith – who is being recruited by Charlotte, Florida State, Rutgers, South Florida and UNC-Wilmington – to be the senior leader.

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September 14, 2010

Baltimore guards headline Vt. school's roster

When Jesse Bopp landed the boys basketball coaching job at Vermont Academy, the former Florida and Virginia Commonwealth graduate assistant knew exactly where to look for talent to fill out his roster.

Bopp, who played at Plymouth (N.H.) State and ran his own AAU program on the side, worked his East Coast connections and was led to Baltimore, where two future Division I players – an under-the-radar veteran and a rising young talent – were looking for a change in atmosphere.

The first Baltimore addition was Keron DeShields, a former Towson Catholic guard and Pallotti’s star player last winter. The West Baltimore native spent the summer with Baltimore Assault and considered going to prep school in South Carolina. By the middle of June, however, DeShields was on board with Bopp’s new squad in Saxtons River, Vt.

“He’s very mature but he’s only 17, so he’s young,” Bopp said. “He’s as mature as they come. Probably some of that maturity comes from the environment of a city like Baltimore. You have to take on those challenges, and he took them on. There were influences like Mike Lloyd, who played at Syracuse, played at Dunbar, and his mother. They really showed Keron what it’s about in terms of living and being a man and taking things on, using basketball as much as possible. And I think [former Towson Catholic star and Sacramento Kings forward] Donte Greene has had an effect on him, explaining to him what work ethic is and having a high threshold for pain, putting yourself in a position for having success through working hard. He just has this desire to be the best.”

Bopp’s second roster acquisition from Baltimore came together in August. Daquein McNeil, one of the area’s top freshmen last winter at Carver, was looking to leave the city for his last three years of high school. With DeShields already in the fold, it didn’t take long for Bopp to convince McNeil to join the party.

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September 2, 2010

Calvert Hall's Adrian Amos headed to the Big East

Adrian Amos capped a big weekend on the football field with a life-altering decision, but while the Calvert Hall standout’s gridiron exploits were no secret, his college choice was mostly kept under wraps. adrian-amos-uconn.jpg

The senior safety made a key interception in Calvert Hall’s season-opening, 24-7 win over St. John’s (D.C.) on Saturday. Amos followed that up with some quality family time and a phone call Sunday night offering his commitment to Connecticut coach Randy Edsall.

“He said congratulations and that he looked forward to coaching me,” said Amos, who picked the Huskies over offers from Temple and West Virginia.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Amos informed Cardinals coach Donald Davis of his intention to commit to UConn on Saturday. Talking the choice over with his family Sunday clinched his choice. But after making the call to Edsall, Amos went about his business without telling too many others about his pledge to UConn.

“I was just trying to focus on my season. I wasn’t really worried about getting it out there,” Amos said. “I didn’t really worry about having articles or anything. I was just trying to focus on the season this year because it’s real important that we win the championship this year.”

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August 27, 2010

Glenelg Country's Powers still likes UM

Warren Powers Jr. has played just one season of high school basketball, but the Glenelg Country School star played like a veteran Saturday.

Powers, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound wing, fared well at the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore last weekend, capping a successful summer on the court.

“Everything’s going well,” Powers said. “I’m looking forward to the school year. I’m really looking forward to the season. I’m just playing hard and [hope] to win the MIAA [B Conference] championship this year. … Everybody’s going to come at us this year, especially St. Paul’s. But we’re ready to challenge it.”

Powers was a headliner for Team Melo's 15-and-under team this summer. A highlight on the circuit for him was making the Elite Eight of the Super Showcase in Orlando. Thanks to his play with Team Melo, Powers has heard from several Division I programs.

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August 26, 2010

Local hoops: McNeil leaving city, likes Terps

One of Baltimore’s most promising young basketball talents will spend his final three years of high school outside the city.

Daquan McNeil, a 6-foot-3 point guard who starred as a freshman at Carver, is headed to Vermont Academy for his sophomore season.

“It wasn’t for basketball,” McNeil said Saturday at the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration. “It’s just for the education. My parents felt that Baltimore City doesn’t have the right education to prepare me for college.”

The basketball program at Vermont Academy -- located in Saxtons River, Vt. -- will be led by Jesse Bopp, who worked last season on Virginia Commonwealth’s staff.

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August 25, 2010

C.J. Fair primed for freshman year at Syracuse

One year ago, C.J. Fair packed his bags and left Baltimore behind for a year of prep school at Brewster (N.H.) Academy.

The 6-foot-7 forward bypassed a chance to spend his senior year playing for City’s Class 2A title team so that he could better prepare for his college future at Syracuse. In hindsight, Fair thinks he made the right decision.

“[Leaving home] makes you mature early at a young age, so you learn how to build on your own,” Fair said Saturday at the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore. “But coming from home and Brewster to Syracuse, it’s a big jump. But Brewster prepared me to go to Syracuse.”

Fair teamed with former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton at Brewster last season, guiding the Bobcats to the 2010 National Prep Championship. Fair, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection as a sophomore, was picked for the New England Preparatory School Athletic Conference Class A second team.

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August 24, 2010

Antonio Barton ready for his Memphis debut

antonio-barton-memphis.jpg After a nearly two-month sneak preview of life as a college basketball player, Antonio Barton was back on familiar ground Saturday.

Fresh off a summer-school stint at Memphis, the former Lake Clifton point guard turned out for the Bmorehoops.com 6th Anniversary Celebration at The Dome in East Baltimore on Saturday. Barton said his introduction to college life was a positive experience.

“It’s lovely [at Memphis],” said Barton, who committed to the Tigers in June 2009. “It’s very supportive and with the schoolwork, the teachers help you out a lot. It’s just lovely down there.”

The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Barton recently suited up for the Tigers in a foreign tour of the Bahamas. In Memphis’ 142-64 win over Cyborts, Barton scored seven points to go along with three rebounds and a game-high seven assists.

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August 22, 2010

Will Barton, Josh Pastner discuss NCAA ruling

will-barton-memphis-eligible.jpg Will Barton answered his phone around 7 p.m. Friday night, with the caller ID indicating that Memphis coach Josh Pastner was on the line.

The former Lake Clifton shooting guard was expecting word from his coach on his appeal for NCAA eligibility. Barton was ruled ineligible by the NCAA earlier this month because it took him nine semesters, instead of eight, to graduate high school – violating a rule implemented after he had earned his diploma.

“He said, ‘Are you ready to rock and roll?’” Barton recalled. “And I knew what he was talking about once he said that. … I was surprised. There was a lot going on in my head. Once I found out the good news [that I was eligible], I was real happy and excited. I was real amped up.”

Barton was back at his old stomping grounds Saturday at The Dome in East Baltimore. While hundreds of high school basketball fans turned out to watch the all-star games for bmorehoops.com’s sixth annual anniversary celebration, the 6-foot-6, 175-pound freshman was often the center of attention on the sidelines and in the stands. Barton said plenty of people from Baltimore offered words of encouragement throughout the NCAA appeal process, as did supporters of the Tigers.

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August 19, 2010

Poly defensive end has Division I potential

The waiting game has begun for Poly senior Paul Taylor. paul-taylor-poly.jpg

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound defensive end and offensive tackle spent his summer as most Division 1-caliber recruits do – showcasing his talents for a host of college coaches at several camps and combines. One scholarship offer has been made, while Taylor hopes more could eventually be on the way.

“I went to Bryant, Delaware, Temple, Maryland [and] Syracuse,” said Taylor, the 10th-ranked defensive lineman in Maryland according to MDHigh.com. “… [Getting a scholarship] felt great. It’s sort of like the validation for work I’ve been doing so far. They told me to keep working and pushing myself. I’m one of the few to get an offer in this city, so it felt great. My family was pretty happy for me and my coaches were pretty happy for me.”

Bryant, a Football Championship Subdivision program in Rhode Island, was the school that offered him a scholarship. Taylor said Connecticut, Delaware, James Madison and William & Mary have been in contact, while Engineers coach Roger Wrenn has heard from several other programs.

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August 17, 2010

Change of plans for Digital Harbor's Davon Usher

davon-usher-juco.jpg Davon Usher is set to leave home for college Saturday, but his destination will be different than what he originally planned.

Usher, who graduated from Digital Harbor in June, signed with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in November. But instead of suiting up for the Islanders this fall, the 6-foot-5, 185-pound shooting guard will play basketball at Polk State, a junior college in Winter Haven, Fla.

“I’m not going to Corpus Christi this year because [Islanders assistant coach and former Lake Clifton standout] Kevin Norris had left [for UNC-Wilmington] and we decided to go our separate ways,” Usher said. “But [I’m] still close [with the coaching staff]. We really parted ways on good terms. I still communicate with the head coach.”

Usher, who started his high school career at Carver before moving on to National Foundations Academy and then Digital Harbor, said there were complications with his academic paperwork and “everything didn’t get settled in fast enough to go to Corpus Christi.”

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August 16, 2010

Durand Johnson commits to Big East school

In Anthony Lewis’ mind, there was no way Durand Johnson could’ve gone wrong. durand-johnson.jpg

The longtime Cecil Kirk coach saw his star player earn scholarship offers from more than 20 Division I basketball programs, including Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and St. John’s.

“I don’t think any of the schools could’ve been a bad fit for him. All the contenders, they really had a legitimate shot. I thought he agonized long and hard on those schools, because he couldn’t go wrong on them. … But he was an early, heavy lean toward” one of those Big East programs, Lewis said.

On Monday night, Johnson committed to the program Lewis believed he had favored early on. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Lake Clifton graduate is headed to Pittsburgh.

“It feels good,” said Johnson, who will attend Brewster (N.H.) Academy this fall. “They were there from Day One. I just really knew I was No. 1 for them.”

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August 12, 2010

Calvert Hall OT Ben Curtis has options

For three weeks, Cardinal Gibbons junior Ben Curtis joined his classmates in protesting the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s decision to close the venerable Catholic school, while simultaneously searching for a place to spend his senior year.

When it became clear that Curtis and his fellow Crusaders couldn’t save their school, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive tackle zeroed in on a new destination with a familiar face in charge of the football program.

“I narrowed it down to Gilman, Good Counsel and Calvert Hall, and then I just chose Calvert Hall because I felt like it was the best fit,” said Curtis, the sixth-ranked senior lineman in the state according to MDHigh.com. “It has the same air of brotherhood that Gibbons had when I was there. And I also knew some of the players, and I knew Coach [Donald] Davis prior to this because he was recruiting me to play for Gibbons in middle school.”

Davis, who took the Calvert Hall job four years ago, didn’t have contact on a personal level with Curtis back then, but he remembered his potential well.

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August 6, 2010

Josh Selby and Will Barton in NCAA limbo

It's been a rough week for two former Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year honorees.

Memphis shooting guard Will Barton and Kansas point guard Josh Selby, both of whom starred at Lake Clifton, are facing eligibility questions from the NCAA. Barton has appealed an NCAA decision ruling him ineligible based on his August 2009 graduation date from Lake Clifton. Selby's problem with the NCAA involves questions about his relationship with Robert "Bay" Frazier, the business manager for Carmelo Anthony.

Barton's mother, Karen Bush, said Friday that Will is in good spirits. selby-barton.jpg

"We're working on seeing what can be done, and I know Will has worked hard to get where he's at. He's done everything that he was supposed to have done. It will be resolved the way it's supposed to be resolved. He will continue to do his studies, work hard and hopefully everything will work out the way it's supposed to. We're positive here in the Barton camp, so he's doing fine."

Selby's mother, Maeshon Witherspoon, said Friday that the NCAA's probe "is just protocol."

"He's not worried at all," Witherspoon said. "We don't foresee any problems that Josh won't be cleared."

Check out the complete Baltimore Sun story on the NCAA issues facing Selby and Barton.

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August 5, 2010

Huge summer for Howard Co. AAU hoops team

Finding a rare free moment last week in Orlando, Bill Napolitano flipped on the television, tuned in to ESPNU and listened to the network’s basketball analysts break down the final eight teams at the 17-and-under AAU National Championships.

“Every team had at least one guy who already committed to a big-name school,” Napolitano said. “And then [they talked about] HCYP Elite, and nobody on our team is going anywhere. They will, but at that time, nothing. We played the Carolina Raptors and they’ve got three guys going to ACC schools that have already committed. They were all big-name programs.”

Napolitano’s Howard County Youth Programs squad may have been an unknown quantity on the national scene, but that changed quickly last week in Orlando. HCYP Elite fell to the South Carolina Ravens in a semifinal matchup of the championship bracket, but then finished strong with a win over the Connecticut Basketball Club in the third-place game. The improbability of HCYP Elite finishing third at nationals was not lost on Napolitano.

“Every one of those teams was sponsored either by a shoe company or an NBA player,” Napolitano said. “… We pretty much sell donuts and stuff like that to get down there. We don’t get any sponsorship money, even from our own organization.”

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August 4, 2010

Ex-Howard shooting guard will play Div. I hoops

john-tatum-southern.jpg John Tatum wasn’t going to let a disappointing senior season carry over to prep school, even after his post-grad year got off to a less-than-ideal start.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound shooting guard from Howard High had hoped for a Division I scholarship coming out of high school, but a “frustrating” senior season led to just junior college and Division II interest. A full academic qualifier, Tatum graduated high school and left Maryland for Southwest Academy in Lansing, Mich. Unfortunately for Tatum, a strong start quickly turned sour.

“When John first came into our program, he was playing the best basketball of anyone on the team,” said Southwest Academy coach Don Petties. “Then John sprained his ankle pretty bad in the first game of the season. It was a high-ankle sprain, the worst sprain you can have. It was pretty much the first minute of the game.”

Petties, a former Western Michigan player and Harlem Globetrotters assistant coach, was counting on Tatum to be a team leader and go-to scorer. Tatum was counting on Petties to put him on the radar of Division I programs. After several weeks of rehab, player and coach were finally able to accomplish what they set out to do.

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July 29, 2010

Digital Harbor's Justin Jackson makes his choice

justin-jackson-rams.jpg Justin Jackson was all set to stay in Baltimore for college until a Division II program in Ohio extended a late scholarship offer earlier this month.

Digital Harbor’s star point guard planned on visiting the Urbana University campus before deciding between the Blue Knights and a preferred walk-on opportunity at Morgan State. But ultimately, Jackson never took the trip to Ohio.

“I was just talking to my family and they said that Morgan looks like a good choice because they’ve got the [financial aid] situation straight, so it’s good,” Jackson said. “… [The Morgan coaches] basically thought I was going there from Jump Street, so they were just happy to have me on the board. I talked to my assistant coach and I’ll be playing there my first year.”

Jackson’s been a well-known name throughout the city basketball scene for the past several years, culminating with the 2008-09 high school season when he and older brother George Jackson guided the Rams to the Class 1A state championship. Jackson looked the part of a Division I prospect, but things didn’t go quite as planned after the initial buzz about his game.

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July 27, 2010

Memory of Crowder propels Baltimore Elite to title

john-crowder.jpg A championship was on the line and a host of Division I college basketball coaches were looking on from the stands, but Daquan Cook couldn’t help but glance in the direction of his Nike Baltimore Elite teammates on the sideline.

Cook, a rising junior from Digital Harbor, had guided Nike Baltimore Elite’s 16-and-under team to the championship game of the Super Showcase AAU tournament Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. While the 6-foot-1 point guard was focused on the game, the No. 15 jersey draped over a chair on Nike Baltimore Elite’s bench continually caught his eye.

“It was in my mind all the time,” Cook said. “I couldn’t stop looking at the bench, to be honest with you.”

The No. 15 jersey for NBE had belonged to John Crowder, the 6-foot-8 power forward from Mount Carmel who was shot and killed July 5 in Northeast Baltimore. Cook said Crowder’s memory served as motivation all weekend long for him and his NBE teammates, who toughed out a 58-57 win over All-Ohio Red on Sunday for the Super Showcase title.

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July 22, 2010

Calvert Hall DB Adrian Amos has many options

adrian-amos-cardinals.jpg Donald Davis still remembers the 5-foot-4, 145-pound quarterback for the Overlea youth football program flying down the field and leaving a trail of defenders in his wake.

The Calvert Hall coach thought he might have found his quarterback of the future, but that pint-sized youth player eventually grew into a 6-foot, 198-pound defensive back. Adrian Amos, a rising senior for the Cardinals, is now one of the most heavily recruited football prospects in Baltimore.

“Physically, he’s grown leaps and bounds,” Davis said. “Coming in he was a kid that had a great skill set. He tore it up in youth football. He was small, but he was a football player. His ball skills are outstanding and he’s been very flexible and willing to learn. He was a quick, athletic, undersized QB. Then he morphed into something totally different.”

Amos played quarterback – and some slot receiver – for Calvert Hall’s junior varsity as a freshman. But Davis approached Amos with a position switch before his sophomore year.

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July 21, 2010

Arundel's Brandon Belt makes his choice

brandon-belt-arundel.jpg

For at least one year of college, Brandon Belt will be playing basketball close to home.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Arundel has accepted a scholarship from Baltimore City Community College and is already enrolled in classes. Belt, a second-team All-Anne Arundel County selection as a senior, picked the Panthers over offers from Division II programs Gannon (Pa.) and Pace (N.Y.).

“I’m just glad that it’s over,” Belt said. “That was a long process, and I’m ready to start the work for the upcoming season.”

Belt, who transferred to Arundel from Southern before his senior year, averaged 14.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the Wildcats (18-4).

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July 15, 2010

Decision looms for Digital Harbor's Justin Jackson

justin-jackson-rams.jpg

College classes start relatively soon for the class of 2010, but Justin Jackson still has a choice to make.

The former Digital Harbor combo guard, fresh off a successful set of performances at the inaugural Baltimore Summer League at Loyola, was all set to join Morgan State’s basketball team as a preferred walk-on. Jackson said he received a financial aid package from the university and an invitation to suit up for the defending MEAC-champion Bears.

Last week, however, Jackson caught the attention of the Urbana (Ohio) University coaching staff at a workout at the Park School. Jackson said a scholarship was offered, as well as a request to visit the university, located about 45 miles outside of Columbus, Ohio.

“They asked me if I possibly wanted to visit, and I said, ‘Yeah,’” Jackson said. “I’m going to check them out on their website and try to take a visit, then I’ll give them my transcript and all that stuff. It’s a little process. Just as soon as I visit there, then I’ll make my final decision. In like a week or two.”

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July 14, 2010

Dunbar's Corey Spence on a comeback tour

corey-spence-dunbar.jpg

Here’s what Corey Spence remembers about that late-November night: leaving a party, hopping into the passenger’s seat of his friend’s car, waking up in the hospital.

Spence, Dunbar’s senior point guard, had fallen asleep on the drive from Baltimore County back into the city. Sometime after that, near the county line on Pulaski Highway, the car crashed into a utility pole. Spence said he woke up for a second, then blacked out almost immediately.

“When I got to the hospital, when I first arrived, my father asked the doctor [about my condition],” Spence said. “And he was like, ‘It’s a 50-50 chance.’ If I made it through the first night, I’d be good.”

Spence awoke the next morning with a chipped bone in his pelvis, internal bleeding, several bruises, a cut on his liver, a cut on his kidney and a contusion of the heart. His friend, the driver, suffered bruised ribs. The doctors said Spence’s muscular 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame was crucial for his survival.

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July 13, 2010

Poly's Donovan Riley getting an early start

donovan-riley-poly.jpg The way Donovan Riley sees it, he’s getting a one-year head start on his recruitment.

The rising junior defensive back from Poly has spent his summer vacation touring the East Coast, attending football camps at Connecticut, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Temple and Villanova, with stops at Virginia and Old Dominion on tap.

At most of those camps, Riley has been among the youngest participants, going head-to-head against some of the top senior prospects in the country.

“That’s what all the coaches are telling me at the camps – that I’m way ahead of the game,” Riley said. “It’s really been fun competing against the guys. It’s like we’re all on the same level. In some cases, I’m getting the best of them, but it’s been really fun.”

The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Riley saw action at cornerback, safety, wide receiver and punt returner for Poly as a junior, helping the Engineers to a 9-2 record, including an overtime win over rival City. Riley scored three touchdowns and intercepted three passes on the season.

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July 8, 2010

Homecoming for Towson Catholic grad Bastfield

larry-bastfield-morgan.jpg Three years ago Larry Bastfield couldn’t wait to get away from home for college. Today, the former Towson Catholic standout couldn’t be happier to be back.

A second-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection in 2008, Bastfield signed with Toledo in the fall of 2007 and completed his sophomore season with the Rockets in the spring. When Toledo coach Gene Cross left the university in March, however, Bastfield decided to head home to Baltimore and finish out his college career at Morgan State.

“It’s for the better,” said Bastfield, who is already taking classes this summer at Morgan. “It really hit me when I came home. I was really ready to come back when I was in Toledo. I was ready for a better situation and ready for the next step.”

Bastfield’s college career got off to a rocky start before he had even enrolled at Toledo. Stan Joplin, the longtime Rockets coach who recruited him, was fired after the 2007-08 season. Bastfield stuck with his commitment and played two years for Cross.

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June 22, 2010

St. Frances' Lewis holds his own at Top 100 Camp

greg-lewis-top-100.jpg When the initial list of attendees for the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp came out, Greg Lewis' name was conspicuously absent.

After a couple cancellations, however, Lewis got the invite to Charlottesville, Va. The rising senior center from St. Frances relished the chance to compete against the country’s best.

“It’s a lot of opportunity to be in the camp and it can take you a long way if you put the hard work in at the camp,” Lewis said. “It’s a lot of opportunity to work with former NBA players, and if you do the right things, I think it will take you a long way.”

Lewis, Rivals.com’s No. 106 player nationally and the 10th-ranked center, has spent the summer on the AAU circuit with Nike Baltimore Elite, battling most of the best big men in the country many times before last week's camp. Nervousness, Lewis said, wasn’t an issue.

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June 21, 2010

City's Nick Faust shines at Top 100 camp

Former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton had a few simple words of advice for Nick Faust before this summer. nick-faust-top-100.jpg

“He told me just to keep my head up and play well, keep my composure and just take the game easy,” said Faust, a rising senior shooting guard at City and a cousin of Barton’s. “I kind of followed his footsteps. He taught me a lot and I’m learning from it and putting it in my game.”

It was just one year ago that Barton tore up the AAU scene with Nike Baltimore Elite, impressed at the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp, and parlayed his summer play into a high national ranking.

This summer, it’s Faust’s turn to try and duplicate Barton’s success. He’s off to a good start so far, emerging as Nike Baltimore Elite’s top player and turning heads in Charlottesville, Va., last Thursday through Saturday at the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

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June 17, 2010

Video: Nike Baltimore Elite highlights from Portland

Here's the final video installment, courtesy of OregonLive.com, of Nike Baltimore Elite at the Rose City Showcase in Portland, Ore., last weekend. This clip features City shooting guard Nick Faust, St. Frances combo guard Sam Cassell Jr., St. Frances center Greg Lewis and Carver guard Daquan McNeil.

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June 16, 2010

Tom Lemming on Md.'s 2011 football class

Tom Lemming has seen his fair share of strong football classes come out of Maryland over the past several years. The 2011 class, collectively, may not live up to those past standards, but it’s still a solid group.

“Normally, Maryland is a very good state for football,” said Lemming, the CBS College Sports Network and MaxPreps.com football recruiting expert, who released his Top 100 rankings last week. “But there’s a lot of good ballplayers that just missed the Top 100. Last year there were a lot. It’s probably not a great year in Maryland, but an overall good year for talent.”

Leading the way in-state this year is DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, the No. 3 player nationally on Lemming’s list behind Tampa (Fla.) Plant athlete James Wilder at 1 and Rock Hill (S.C.) North Pointe defensive end Jadaveon Clowney at 2. Kouandjio, whose brother Arie signed with Alabama in February, is a dominant left tackle for the Stags.

“His brother was very good, and I think Cyrus probably learned a lot from being his little brother,” Lemming said. “But Cyrus is 6-7, 290 pounds and he looks thin. I’ve been to see him three times, and he’s going to play for us in the U.S. Army game. He’ll be 320 in another year or two. He has great feet and is a remarkable athlete for his size. He can bend his knees and is very flexible. He’s got what you want in a left tackle, especially 30 pounds from now in a year or two. He can slide out, is a really good stop-speed rusher, but he’s strong and dominant as a blocker. He has all the tools to be a No. 1 draft choice.”

Two rising seniors from the Baltimore area just missed the cut for Lemming’s Top 100. Gilman quarterback Darius Jennings and Owings Mills offensive tackle Donovan Smith are both on the cusp of All-American status. Lemming sees Jennings as a running back or slot back in college.

Continue reading "Tom Lemming on Md.'s 2011 football class" »

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Video: St. Frances' Sam Cassell Jr. in Portland

Check out video highlights, courtesy of OregonLive.com, of St. Frances senior and Nike Baltimore Elite combo guard Sam Cassell Jr. at last weekend's Nike Rose City Showcase in Portland, Ore.

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June 15, 2010

Loyola football players headed to college

Five recently graduated Loyola football players will suit up for college programs in the fall, Dons coach Brian Abbott said last week.

Quarterback Connor Bruns, who moved to Baltimore from North Dakota before his junior season, will play for St. John’s, a Division III power in Minnesota. connor-bruns-dons.jpg

“He’s had several family members go to the school,” Abbott said. “They’ve got a rich football tradition. When he didn’t land a DI scholarship, that’s basically where he wanted to go.”

Ben Cranston, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound center, placed a heavy emphasis on academics when it came to his college choice, selecting Division III Amherst of the New England Small College Athletic Conference.

“He was looking at Georgetown, schools like that,” Abbott said. “But he really fell in love with Amherst. He’ll go there and be one of their big-time players.”

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City's Nick Faust dominates in Portland

City shooting guard Nick Faust made himself right at home last weekend at Nike's Rose City Showcase in Portland, Ore.

The 6-foot-5, 170-pound rising senior scored 93 points in three games for Nike Baltimore Elite. Faust updated OregonLive.com on his recruitment after a game.

"Schools that have offered me [are] Penn State, UMass, Oregon State, Delaware, Drexel, Maryland," he said. "There were several more, but I'm also getting recruited by Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette, Xavier, Virginia Tech and Clemson. It's a lot. It's been getting real heavy."

Check out video highlights of Faust, courtesy of OregonLive.com, below.

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June 9, 2010

Aquille Carr steals show at 2013 I-95 Challenge

Aquille Carr may not have ended Saturday’s I-95 Elite Challenge with an ankle-breaking crossover and long-range jumper, like he did at the Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul’s in April.

But the Patterson point guard impressed once again at the Class of 2013 All-Star game at Baltimore City Community College. The 5-foot-6 Carr scored 20 points to lead Baltimore to a 63-49 win over Washington.

Carr’s play Saturday continued a strong start to the summer season. At the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Durham, N.C., earlier this month, Carr, playing for Team Melo, was named the top overall player at the event by North Star Basketball. He also received sterling evaluations from Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Did Carr, a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection as a freshman, expect all this attention?

“Yes,” Carr said. “I got my name out there.”

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June 8, 2010

Judd among standouts at 2012 I-95 Challenge

Quentin Judd may not have been a household name to casual city basketball followers last winter, but that's sure to change after the summer.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound rising junior had a 13-performance in April’s Super 60 Showcase, and followed that up with a 14-point game Saturday at the I-95 Elite Challenge at Baltimore City Community College. Judd’s play helped the Class of 2012 Baltimore All-Stars to an 81-70 win over Washington’s team.

“[I felt] good. Great. Unbelievable,” Judd said Saturday. “I was working on my bounce, working on my game. It paid off on the floor.”

A high-flyer who can play the 1, 2 and 3, Judd is fresh off a standout sophomore season at Institute of Business & Entrepreneurship (formerly known as Walbrook). He said he averaged about 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, teaming with freshman forward Anton Waters to form a potent 1-2 punch for the Warriors.

“I’m still under the radar,” he said. “That’s why I come out here and play hard, so I can build up.”

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June 7, 2010

Boys' Latin's Marco Jones commits to U.Va.

First impressions weren't forgotten when it came to Marco Jones' recruitment.

The Boys’ Latin rising senior – who sat out the 2008 season after transferring from Mount St. Joseph – joined his Lakers teammates for a camp at the University of Richmond last summer. There, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jones first met Mike London, the Spiders’ second-year coach.

“I thought he was a great guy. I always thought he was a really nice guy ... a really cool, down-to-earth guy. He looks like a father-type figure to his players,” said Jones, who was offered a scholarship by London that day.

Jones, a three-star prospect according to Scout.com, didn’t give much thought to playing for the Spiders. But once London was hired away from Richmond by Virginia after the 2009 season, the Cavaliers soon vaulted to the top of Jones’ list of schools. On Sunday, during an unofficial visit to Charlottesville, Jones committed to Virginia.

“Coach London asked us if anyone wanted to commit. And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I told my mother I felt comfortable, so I did it,” Jones said. “He was really excited. He told all the recruits. He stopped everyone and said ‘We got one.’”

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June 6, 2010

Johnson, Faust stand out at I-95 Elite Challenge

For Durand Johnson, the I-95 Elite Challenge at Baltimore City Community College this weekend finally presented an opportunity to shine.

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 ½, 195-pound small forward, spent the past season at Lake Clifton, playing a complimentary role to all-everything point guard Josh Selby.

At BCCC on Saturday, Johnson deferred to no one. The No. 116 rising senior in the country according to Rivals.com, Johnson was, at times, unstoppable. He scored 19 points in Baltimore’s 78-64 loss to the Washington all-stars in the Class of 2011 game.

“I feel good,” Johnson said Saturday. “I used to be just a shooter last year. But everybody said this year I’ve gotta pick it up, mix it up and be an all-around player. That’s what I focus on – doing everything.”

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June 3, 2010

Calvert Hall's Donya Jackson stays true to Navy

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Three months of summer vacation will officially begin for Donya Jackson on Saturday after Calvert Hall’s graduation.

It could have been a much shorter summer break for Jackson had things gone as originally planned. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound small forward committed to Navy’s basketball program last June with the expectation of beginning his plebe summer in Annapolis next month. Instead, Jackson will spend the summer working out, playing basketball and preparing for a year of prep school at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy before enrolling at the Naval Academy next summer.

“I was [a little disappointed about going to prep school] because I was looking at my class and a lot of people in my class are going straight to college and I wanted to graduate with them,” Jackson said. “I have a lot of friends I want to go to college with, but it doesn’t matter now because either way, I’m still going to the school I want to go to. I think another year will be good for me. It gives me another year to develop academically and athletically.”

Jackson had a storybook senior season at Calvert Hall, leading the Cardinals to the Baltimore Catholic League tournament championship. A two-time BCL Defensive Player of the Year, Jackson earned Baltimore Sun second-team All-Metro honors.

In the classroom, Jackson took care of business as well with a 3.2 grade-point average. His grades and standardized test score easily surpassed the minimum NCAA qualifying standards. But Jackson soon discovered that his SAT score wasn’t quite high enough for Navy’s requirements. While Jackson had hoped to matriculate to Navy right after graduating from high school, he soon discovered that future Midshipmen attending prep school was far from unique.

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Video: Josh Selby named Athlete of the Year

Lake Clifton point guard Josh Selby capped an award-filled senior year Wednesday when he was honored as The Baltimore Sun's Male Athlete of the Year.

After the 44th annual awards banquet, Selby discussed his feelings on being named Athlete of the Year, and his expectations for his college career at Kansas.

Bill Self, he’s a great coach,” Selby said in a video interview with The Sun's Kevin Richardson. “[It’s a] great group of guys. That tradition is just great. They won a national championship in 2008. So hopefully I can get there and win a championship to bring back home for Baltimore.

“When I get there, I just hope that I get one and done – I ain’t gonna lie. I hope that they mature me on and off the court, make me a better man and make me a better player.”

Check out the video below for an extended Q&A with Selby, including his thoughts on replacing Sherron Collins in the Jayhawks' lineup, becoming a leader and more.

 

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June 2, 2010

Ex-Lake Clifton star transfers to CAA school

The decision for Antoine Allen came in late last week. antoine-allen-unc-wilmingto.jpg

The former Lake Clifton combo guard, who spent his freshman year at Miami, has signed with UNC-Wilmington of the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Well, I think it was UNC-Wilmington, Marshall and Arizona in the final list,” said Anthony Lewis, Allen’s AAU coach at Cecil Kirk. “I just think he wanted to find a fit where he’s going to step in and make an impact this time. It’s an opportunity for him to grow and be an impact guy on the team, and also in the league.”

At UNC-Wilmington, Allen will suit up for another former Laker, Hurricane and Cecil Kirk player. Kevin Norris, who starred at Lake Clifton and Miami in the 1990s, was hired by the Seahawks as an assistant coach last week.

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June 1, 2010

Boys' Latin DE Marco Jones a top prospect

Ritchie Schell didn’t know what to expect when Marco Jones came into his life almost two years ago.

The Boys’ Latin football coach received a stellar recommendation on Jones – a sophomore transfer student from Mount St. Joseph – from the mother of Lakers defensive back Michael Turner. Jones, one of Turner’s best friends, sought a smaller classroom environment and a chance to play for another football program.

“I had never seen him play,” Schell said of the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Jones. “[Turner’s mother] said he’s a great kid that’s going to be a Division I player. I said, ‘Let’s take him if, academically, he was good.’ He’s a wonderful kid. He plays basketball for us. He’s a great asset to the community. So it’s wonderful. But I had never seen him play. We knew he would be special when he lined up. When he could practice with the team, he just blew everyone away. He plays hard. When he knew he wasn’t going to play, he ran the scout team. We knew we had something special.”

It didn’t take long for several Division I programs to discover just how special a player Schell suddenly had in Jones. The No. 40 defensive end in the country according to Scout.com, Jones has scholarship offers from Connecticut, Duke, East Carolina, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia and Stanford. Coaches from Illinois, Michigan and Notre Dame have made visits to Boys’ Latin to inquire about Jones.

“I kind of felt like [I would have scholarship offers] eventually,” Jones said. “But I didn’t think it was going to be that soon.”

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May 27, 2010

Local hoops: St. Mary's taps Baltimore for talent

For St. Mary’s College men’s basketball coach Chris Harney, there was no reason to mess with a proven method of success.

Thanks to a roster built with a heavy reliance on players from the Baltimore area this year, the Seahawks won their second Capital Athletic Conference championship in the past three seasons, earning another trip to the NCAA Division III tournament.

When it came time to assemble the Seahawks’ 2010 recruiting class, Harney looked to Baltimore again, landing four players from this area, and another two from Montgomery County. At least one other notable player from Baltimore is seriously considering the Seahawks.

“We recruit from Baltimore primarily because of the toughness of the players,” Harney said in an e-mail. “The Baltimore players that come to St. Mary's College are ready for the college game because of the dedication of the great high school and AAU coaches in the Baltimore area. Our Baltimore players have been an integral part of our national success.”

Calvert Hall point guard Kyle Wise, Pikesville shooting guard Devohn Gilmore, former Long Reach guard Deon Queen, Poolesville forward Brendan McFall, River Hill forward R.J. Zukowski and Paint Branch forward Rycourt MacAuley comprise St. Mary’s 2010 class.

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May 26, 2010

Local hoops: Myers, Noel thinking it over

Two Notre Dame Prep (Mass.) players with Baltimore ties are ready to embark on their college basketball careers. Now it’s nearing the time for the other two to decide where they’ll spend the next four years.

Former Lake Clifton standouts Cleveland Melvin (DePaul) and Antonio Barton (Memphis) have signed with their respective colleges, while former Forest Park point guard Antoine Myers and ex-Towson Catholic forward Levi Noel could end their recruitments at any time.

“Antoine is still wide open,” said NDP coach Ryan Hurd. “UNC-Wilmington, Seton Hall, Rutgers. It’s just going to be one of those things where he finishes his way through it and sees what’s really important to him.”

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May 18, 2010

Former Cecil Kirk hoops standouts narrowing lists

antoine-allen-dunk.jpg On Monday, Anthony Lewis saw former Lake Clifton standout Cleveland Melvin commit to DePaul. Now the longtime Cecil Kirk AAU basketball coach is helping two other former players find new homes.

Lewis said Monday that former Lake Clifton standout Antoine Allen and ex-Forest Park star Antoine Myers will sign with Division I programs later this spring.

Lewis said Allen, who decided to transfer from Miami after his freshman season, is looking at Marshall, UNC-Wilmington and Arizona. In 17 appearances for the Hurricanes last season, Allen averaged 2.9 points and 0.8 rebounds. He shot 41.7 percent from 3-point range, and was named to the ACC’s All-Academic team.

Allen was a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection in 2008. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound combo guard averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Lakers, who won the Baltimore City and Class 3A North regional championships in 2008.

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May 17, 2010

Ex-Lakers star Cleveland Melvin headed to Big East

cleveland-melvin-depaul.jpg The first time Cleveland Melvin went through the recruiting process, trips were taken to Connecticut and DePaul.

The former Lake Clifton standout loved the Blue Demons’ Chicago campus, but ultimately decided to commit to the Huskies in November.

When Melvin and UConn parted ways in March, a host of high-major schools came calling again – including DePaul. On Monday, the 6-foot-8, 210-pound Melvin pledged to the Blue Demons.

“It feels great. I always wanted to play in the Big East,” said Melvin, who also considered Marshall and Rutgers. “I was feeling a lot of schools, but I’m just happy it’s over with. It’s a great atmosphere out there. It felt different from home. So it was just a great experience to be in Chicago.”

Melvin, who took another trip to DePaul earlier this spring, joins Randallstown native and Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) point guard Brandon Young in the Blue Demons’ 2010 class. Becoming a part of Oliver Purnell’s first class at DePaul was a major selling point for Melvin.

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May 13, 2010

Calvert Hall's Graham picks Big Ten school

For Calvert Hall power forward Jonathan Graham, the recruiting process was often an exercise in patience. jonathan-graham-penn-state.jpg

The 6-foot-8, 215-pound senior bypassed the fall signing period to see which schools came calling this season. Fall turned to winter and winter turned to spring, but Graham remained on the market, still waiting for the right program to emerge.

On Thursday, Graham finally found what he was looking for in a school. During an official visit to Penn State, he committed to the Nittany Lions. Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said Graham will sign his letter of intent Friday.

“[Recruiting] was hanging over his head for awhile,” Bauersfeld said. “He just didn’t feel comfortable with different situations and offers that he did have. This is definitely a big relief to him and he feels really comfortable with his decision. He’s excited at the same time as being relieved. ... He really liked the coaches when they met. He fell in love with the campus, and obviously playing in the Big Ten is really attractive to any kid. Penn State is a great school.”

Graham picked the Nittany Lions over Duquesne. He also had an offer from Seton Hall before the Pirates’ coaching change in March.

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May 12, 2010

Edmondson's Stanton Kidd reaches decision

There were three options Stanton Kidd considered when it came to his college basketball future. stanton-kidd.jpg

The Edmondson senior could: wait until later this summer in hopes of an improved SAT score and a Division I scholarship; attend prep school for a year, get a better test score and then move on to college; go to junior college, play two years and transfer to a four-year school.

On Sunday, Kidd decided on the third option. He faxed his letter of intent to South Plains College in Levelland, Texas on Tuesday.

“Me and my father sat down,” Kidd said. “And he said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with JUCO. You can do one year of prep, but JUCO is two years of regular college courses. They’ll give you the experience [to make sure] you’re ready to go to a four-year university. [At junior college you’re] going to classes and taking care of your own responsibilities.’ ... I want to be at school. We [would have had to] pay for prep school, and I wanted to go somewhere for free.”

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May 4, 2010

Ex-Arundel forward commits to MAC school

Auraum Nuiriankh’s original plan called for a college visit to Buffalo for a few days followed by a trip to Tulane. auraum-nuiriankh-photo.jpg

The 2009 Arundel graduate completed the first part of his itinerary last Tuesday, but never made it to New Orleans for the second visit.

“I liked Buffalo. It’s a great atmosphere,” said Nuiriankh, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard. “So I called the head coach this past weekend [and committed]. He was ecstatic. He said ‘congratulations’ and I made the right decision.”

Nuiriankh, a Baltimore Sun All-Anne Arundel County first-team selection in 2009, plans to sign his letter of intent to Buffalo this week. He also received interest from Boston College.

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May 3, 2010

Decision is in for St. Frances' Dante Holmes

holmes.jpg Plenty of college programs recruited Dante Holmes throughout his four years at St. Frances.

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound wing heard pitches from coaches in the ACC, Big East, Big 12 and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, among others. But a late entrant from Conference USA ultimately earned Holmes’ commitment.

“We did an official visit over the weekend, and it was one of those things where some schools started calling like Boston College, Iowa State,” said Carlos Green, a St. Frances assistant and Holmes’ uncle. “But Marshall just ... wanted him really bad. They were real consistent in his recruitment. The head coach, as soon as he got the job, he called the next day. He wanted to come and see Dante. The assistant coach was consistent in calling and it was just a real good fit.”

Holmes, who also considered Loyola, St. John’s and UAB, committed to the Thundering Herd on Monday. Green said Holmes would sign his letter of intent to Marshall either “tonight or tomorrow morning.”

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May 2, 2010

Milford Mill's Anthony Goode signs with DI school

anthony-goode.jpg Ever since Anthony Goode started high school, he patiently waited for the day a Division I program would offer him a scholarship.

It took the Milford Mill combo guard four years, a Class 3A state championship and a second-team All-Metro season, but last month that day finally came. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Goode got the good news from St. Francis (Pa.) coach Don Friday.

"He just said it like, 'I'm offering you a scholarship,' telling me how much it was worth," Goode said. "And after he did, I was thanking him. ... I went on a visit and everything. And then I waited another week and then I committed."

Goode, who averaged 11 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals for the Millers this season, signed his letter of intent to St. Francis last Monday.

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April 29, 2010

Lake Clifton's Josh Selby takes No. 1 ranking

Josh Selby has spent most of the school year as Rivals.com's No. 4 player in the class of 2010, but the Lake Clifton combo guard will graduate high school on top. selby-dunk.jpg

Rivals.com updated its senior rankings today with Selby, who committed to Kansas earlier this month, as its No. 1 overall prospect.

A dynamic playmaker, Selby has the ability to excel at either the shooting guard or point guard position. He can score at all three levels, and no one hits the difficult shot with more consistency than Selby. As a point guard, he has the ability to breakdown defenses and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. On the other side of the ball, he is a high level defender. Combine these attributes with his athleticism and competitiveness and you have the top prospect in the 2010 class.

Other Baltimore seniors cracking the Rivals 150 include former Lake Clifton shooting guard Will Barton (Memphis) at No. 11, ex-Walbrook forward Roscoe Smith (Connecticut) at No. 37, Mount St. Joseph point guard Eric Atkins (Notre Dame) at No. 66, former City forward C.J. Fair (Syracuse) at No. 94, City center Jordan Latham (Xavier) at No. 130 and Friendship Collegiate (D.C.) guard and Randallstown native Brandon Young (DePaul) at No. 146.

Two Maryland-bound seniors also made Rivals' rankings. Miller School (Va.) small forward Mychal Parker checks in at No. 60, while Tucson (Ariz.) Santa Rita point guard Terrell Stoglin is listed at No. 125.

AP photo of Josh Selby by Henny Ray Abrams / March 29

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April 22, 2010

City's Nwankwo headed to the Big East

For City senior Aron Nwankwo, basketball was always an afterthought when it came to his college plans.

Dreams of becoming a doctor overshadowed thoughts of playing college basketball, even though the 6-foot-7, 195-pound Nwankwo possessed a Division I-caliber game. Last weekend, however, Nwankwo found out that he wouldn't have to sacrifice one for the other.

In November, Nwankwo earned a full academic scholarship to Pittsburgh, where he'll pursue his pre-med studies. Then last weekend, he received an unexpected bonus from the Panthers basketball coaches, who offered him a walk-on spot on the team.

"Other colleges were recruiting me [for basketball], but I didn't really like them too much," Nwankwo said. "Academics came first, so once I got a scholarship and knew I'd be going there, I decided to try to contact the basketball office. I knew they probably didn't have a scholarship, so I was checking to see if there was any chance of walking on to the team. If there was a chance of that, then it would make [me going there] 100 percent."

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April 21, 2010

Schmidt, Milton among 2011 standouts at Super 60

You may not find a traditional MIAA B conference boys basketball powerhouse program at the Friends School.

But what you will find at the Quaker school in North Baltimore is a legitimate Division I prospect whose stock continues to rise.

Jon Schmidt, a 6-foot-7, 200-pound forward, was one of the B Conference’s top players this year. His standout play during the season carried over to the Maryland Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul’s on Saturday.

“This is kind of like the first [all-star game I’ve played in],” said Schmidt, who scored seven points to help Baltimore to a 72-56 win over Team Maryland. “It was awesome. It was really fun. Good time.”

Schmidt has played with Nike Baltimore Elite for the past three years, so he’s no stranger to tough competition. An unselfish player who does all the little things, Schmidt generally plays the 4 and 5 on the AAU circuit. At Friends, however, Schmidt has the starring role.

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April 19, 2010

Cook, Miles among 2012 standouts at Super 60

Every so often, Daquan Cook gets that itch to step on the court. For the past several months, Cook got that feeling more than ever before.

Cook, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound point guard, transferred to Digital Harbor from St. Frances after the first semester. He had hoped to suit up for the Rams at some point during the second semester, but his eligibility wasn’t resolved because of the transfer.

While Cook has already played for Nike Baltimore Elite this spring, Saturday’s Maryland Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul's finally gave him a chance to show local fans what he’s capable of doing on the court.

“[I’m] real crafty,” said Cook, who scored nine points for Team Baltimore. “I can do a lot with the ball, make exciting plays. My passing ability is my best attribute.”

Digital Harbor loses Davon Usher (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) and Justin Jackson to graduation, leaving a starring role to Cook there for the taking.

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April 18, 2010

Aquille Carr headlines 2013 Super 60 game

The smallest player drew the biggest crowd reaction by far Saturday at the inaugural Maryland Super 60 Showcase at St. Paul’s. aquille-carr.jpg

With about 1:45 remaining in the Class of 2013 game, Patterson point guard Aquille Carr drove down the right side of the court, facing blanket coverage from a Team Maryland defender the whole way. After dribbling one step inside the 3-point line, the 5-foot-6 Carr crossed over once, twice, faked forward, pulled back and buried an 18-footer as his opponent literally fell to the floor after biting on Carr’s fake.

“Un-uh. Nope. That’s it,” said a Team Maryland assistant who rose from the bench, walked to the scorer’s table and called the game with less than 1:30 remaining. As the crowd erupted, Carr just smiled, having finished with 12 points to lead Baltimore to a 55-34 win. Once he pulled back and let the jumper fly, Carr said he knew it would fall.

“[The defender] was playing me hard the whole game, like he was trying to get a point across. But I wasn’t even trying to go hard until the fourth quarter. So I was letting him get all his talk in the third and second. Then I just killed him,” Carr said with a laugh.

It’s been that kind of year for Carr, who immediately became one of Baltimore’s best players in his freshman season at Patterson. Carr averaged 25.5 points, eight assists and 5.3 steals, earning Baltimore Sun All-Metro honors. Life in the spotlight is something he has come to relish.

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